How Not to Change

Chief Pennington is leaving, but Al Sharpton has set up camp. Atlanta can’t catch a break.  From an Atlanta Journal Constitution article:

Sharpton Decries Black on Black Violence

In West Atlanta, Sharpton called thugs “a disgrace and a shame to the community.”  And he blamed civil rights leaders like himself for failing to rein in violence.

Nearby, youths held signs urging peace as drivers honked their horns.

Sharpton called for town hall meetings in each of the cities that were participating in Monday’s event.

“None of us have done enough,” he said.

I think Al Sharpton has done quite enough already.  I smell grant money, federal or county or city: somebody should check to see exactly how much Sharpton’s palm is getting greased, and by whom, for this so-called “National Day of Outrage.”  Such things aren’t done for free.  We always pay for them, through Weed and Seed or some other Justice Department tax-dollar give-away, or city funds, or police discretionary budgets that are supposed to be used to, you know, catch criminals.

Follow the money, especially the public safety budget.  Remember back in July, when Pennington and Mayor Franklin finally got around to holding a press conference on crime?  Then the ministers got in on the action, rallying behind a local Sharpton affiliate.  Now Sharpton shows up.  Do you have any idea how much you might be paying for these professional activists?

That’s Chief Pennington standing with Markel Hutchins, an anti-cop activist and local Sharpton representative.  He has a history of sowing divisiveness between communities and police officers.  Why did Pennington join hands with him, and by extension, Sharpton?  Did the Chief actually have this little respect for his own officers?

Good cops risk their lives every day to protect residents in dangerous neighborhoods.  In other cities, the Chief of Police doesn’t get into bed with people like Sharpton.  Pennington did.  If any of Sharpton’s “activism” is being bankrolled by city public safety taxes, or the feds, whoever approved of such expenditures needs to be held accountable.

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The arrival of Sharpton this week to “speak out about crime” reminded me of a comment somebody made on the AJC‘s website after Pennington and Mayor Franklin finally deigned to hold a press conference to scold the public for caring about crime.  File it under “be careful what you wish for, because you might end up paying for Al Sharpton’s lunch.”

Seriously, though, it’s worth reading:

“Captain”   July 30th, 2009

Where are the City’s self proclaimed righteous and pious leaders such as Rev Joseph Lowery, Rev Markel Hutchins, Tyrone Brooks and others? The same leaders who were so quick to go after Police Officers who shot a car thief some 3 yrs ago are silent during this crime wave. Where are they? These are Atlanta’s self appointed leaders who called for “Community Review Boards” to monitor APD, who routinely protested action by APD, never failing to find fault with virtually every aspect of APD operations. Much of this current crime wave is as a direct result of their anti-Police actions and activities of the past several years. These same leaders can’t wait to villify police officers, call for investigations, call white officers ‘racist’, accuse the Police of being ‘out of control’ when the Police do their job. Amazingly, when an athlete is gunned down by those trying to steal his vehicle, when a City council members vehicle is stolen we have a crime wave and they demand action from that same Police force they’ve hammered with relentless accusation after accusation the last four years. The message from Atlanta’s high and might self appointed leaders has been crystal clear to the outlaws during the past few years, the Police are not to be respected, nor are the laws.

“Captain,” whoever he is, is absolutely right.  These activists have been tearing down the police for decades.  They invented the very “no-snitching” anti-cop culture they’re now suddenly so eager to grandstand against.  “Captain” continues:

The ‘thugs’ are running the streets doing as they please. For months it was the ongoing ’smash and grab’ across the city, store after store, time after time. Then it was home breakins, apartment breakins, Atlantic Station breakins, then they moved to shooting restaurant employees, store clerks, followed up by assaulting and robbing college students, now the crowd has moved to car jackings. What a surprise!!! Who could have seen that coming?

Where are Rev Lowery, REv Hutchins, Tyrone Brooks and others today? Their war against the Police Dept has resulted in today’s crime wave. When police officers are treated as these self proclaimed leaders have treated them, is it any surprise the ‘thugs’ feel they have no constraints? I have to wonder, if an APD officer shot and killed one of these outlaws during an attempted car jacking tonight, would one of Atlanta’s ‘leaders’ applaud the Police or call for an investigation, a community review board, prosecution of the officer, and if he were white, allegations of racism and calls for a FBI probe?

Why can’t these same pompous and self proclaimed leaders who have,by their actions, contributed to this current crime wave take to the podium, in front of those TV cameras they so adore, and publically call for Atlanta’s citizens to rise up, stop the crime, and encourage the APD to do all within it’s power to make the City safe? Why won’t they publically SUPPORT APD rather than again ‘blaming”? Why are they so quick to speak out and blame, yet so silent when times call for real and honest leadership? Atlantans are reaping what has been sown, it’s a shame, a real shame.

Some might say that any anti-crime advocacy is welcome, even from the likes of Al Sharpton.  But Sharpton has attacked crime victims, unrepentantly ruined an innocent man’s life with false allegations of rape, and repeatedly incited racial antagonism and violent protests, one of which led to an arson attack where several people burned to death.  He has no business claiming to be a leader against violent crime.  

And then there’s the money.  A few years ago, Sharpton was busy shaking down other people over other causes; now he smells green in people’s demands for safe streets.  Don’t let him leech off the anti-crime movement: it’s disrespectful to victims, and he will do everything he can to divide people by race, which will shatter chances for change in the long run.  Staged activities like “National Days of Outrage” do nothing to stop crime.  They garner a few headlines and line Sharpton’s pockets, while real representatives of the community continue to be frozen out by politicians like Franklin and Pennington, the types of regressive politicians who benefit when people are pitted against each other.

And that’s what Sharpton does best.

If local ministers really want to unite all Atlantans against crime, they must honor all victims and distance themselves from Sharpton and his ilk.  If they want to work to heal divisions between some neighborhoods and the police through personal example, more power to them.  But the movement must be inclusive, and it must be a two-way street with the police: activists need to acknowledge the risks cops take and the thankless work they do in the face of hostilities fired up by people like Sharpton.

It was bad enough that Pennington and Franklin only came out of the bat cave after a well-known athlete got killed.  With that said, kudos to Vernon Forrest’s family for using their influence to push city leaders to action.  But now, if anti-crime activists choose to acknowledge only some crimes, as Sharpton is trying to do, it is a step backward, not forward, for the city.

Anything involving Sharpton is a step back.  He has no business in decent company. (Et tu, Newt G.?)

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5 thoughts on “How Not to Change”

  1. This entry’s last line says it all for me.

    How do we find out where the money is coming from, and where it’s going? The accounts would all be opaque, unless the next mayor chooses to enlighten us, unless an insider leaks the info, right?

  2. There are several steps to take. All budget numbers are public information. One easy thing to do is call upon the AJC to look into it, or, better, write to the man who runs Atlanta Unfiltered — he might check it out, or let you know quite specifically where to look. The police will have a public information line, and they ought to provide numbers — of course they may just blow you off, and then you’ll have to make a FOIA request. That’s why I would start with an activist group or media source with experience. Georgia used to have a sunshine law group — run by somebody associated with Stephanie Stuckey, I think. And ask your city council person for help!

    Federal numbers are often easier to access. The Justice Department used to be quite good about providing information — during the Clinton years. The DOJ Office of Justice Programs should answer questions. Make sure you know the names of all the local groups and coalitions (I can give you some possibilities), or ask about grants given to Atlanta. Certain activists and nonprofits create new identities all the time, just to cover their financial tracks.

    In any case, if you try anything and hit a dead end, let me know.

  3. Please do not mislead people or mis-state the truth; Rev. Hutchins is not neither has he ever been a representative or “affilate” of Al Sharpton or any Sharpton-related organization. In fact, if you would research you would learn that Rev. Hutchins is anything but an “anti-police” activist. Throughout the Kathryn Johnston saga, he was very fair and differential to police officers including those who killed Mrs. Johnston, do the research. Recently, he created the “One Church – One Precinct” initiative aimed at getting churches to support law enforcement.

    Rev. Hutchins and Rev. Sharpton care about some of the same social issues and are certainly close personal friends who happen to both be public figures. The same is true for Rev. Hutchins’ friendship with Sean Hannity and Rev. Sharpton’s friendship with Newt Gingrich.

  4. So you are saying Hutchins’ National Youth Connection was not affiliated with Sharpton’s National Action Network?
    I’m curious about why you would insist that Sharpton and Hutchins are not aligned.

  5. That is correct. I volunteered with the National Youth Connection when it was led by Rev. Hutchins 7 or 8 years ago and that organization had absolutely no affiliation with Rev. Sharpton’s group. Frankly, Rev. Hutchins isn’t the kind of guy who would allow “HIS” group to be tied to another leader’s group. Not even sure why you would think (or suggest) such an affiliation exist. Just because they know each other and are friends certainly does not mean that their organizations are affiliated, aligned or have any professional ties. Its really not that complicated, they are simply friends.

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