George Zimmerman is facing charges of second-degree murder. A jury will decide his guilt or innocence. Here’s hoping the criminal-justice system cools rather than exacerbates the passions the killing of Trayvon Martin has raised.
But Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t helping. Wednesday, he appeared before the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to praise Sharpton “for your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill.”
This is the same Al Sharpton who has led several rallies against Zimmerman, in which he called for civil disobedience and an “occupation” of Sanford, Fla., where the shooting occurred, if an arrest wasn’t made.
This is the same Al Sharpton who has never apologized to Steven Pagones, the assistant district attorney he falsely accused of raping Tawana Brawley, a black teenager. The “dastardly deed” Sharpton accused Pagones of was found to be a complete fabrication. In 1998, Sharpton was found liable for seven defamatory statements he’d made against Pagones and ordered to pay $65,000.
Earlier in the 1990s, Sharpton had become famous exacerbating racial tensions in New York’s Crown Heights neighborhood, tensions that led to the killing of Anthony Graziosi. In 1995, Sharpton denounced the owners of Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem as “bloodsuckers” and “white interlopers” over a rent dispute the business had with tenants. A short time later, a man entered Freddy’s and told all the black people present, patrons and employees alike, to leave. Once they did, the man firebombed the building, killing seven people — including a black security guard. Sharpton insisted he bore no responsibility for the incident, saying it was only a tenant/landlord dispute that had escalated out of control.
It is exceedingly strange for Holder to praise the likes of Al Sharpton and bring him greetings from President Obama. But it is even stranger that Holder should pledge to the Sharpton activists that he will take appropriate federal action against any civil-rights crime, while he appears completely uninterested in the ugly forces calling for violence against George Zimmerman.
It’s been three weeks since Mikhail Muhammad, leader of the New Black Panther Party, offered a $10,000 bounty for the “capture” of Zimmerman and warned that Zimmerman “should be fearful for his life.” The Panthers have distributed wanted posters of Zimmerman and offered the bounty “dead or alive.” Just this week, Michelle Williams, the chief of staff for the Panthers, told WTSP-TV in Tampa, “Let me tell you, the things that’s about to happen, to these honkies, these crackers, these pigs, these pink people, these [inaudible] people. It has been long overdue. My prize right now this evening . . . is gonna be the bounty, the arrest, dead or alive, for George Zimmerman. You feel me?”
Ms. Williams later apologized for her remarks, but her statements and those of other Panthers amount to criminal threats, and could break federal hate-crime laws.