Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sharpton puts city on notice

You know some accounts in recent years seemed to show New York's Rev. Al Sharpton nipping at the heels of a man who I often though could be seen as his mentor, Chicago's Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. Now he's setting up shop here to take part in an issue that is of increasing concern here in Chicago, police brutality. From today's Sun-Times...
The Rev. Al Sharpton is coming to town.

The brash New York minister's civil rights organization is opening a Chicago chapter this week, in part to pressure Mayor Daley and the Cook County state's attorney's office to deal more swiftly with police officers accused of brutality.

"There's been a consistent pattern of police misconduct, and a lot of people feel Daley has been getting a pass," Sharpton said.

He said that a zero-tolerance policy toward police misconduct must emanate from the city's highest elected office.

Sharpton, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, said his National Action Network has pushed for police to be held to the same standards as anyone accused of violent crime.

"As one that has worked police brutality cases successfully from Abner Louima on, I've gotten police officers . . . convicted," Sharpton said, referring to the high-profile New York police beating of a Haitian immigrant in 1997.

"You hear about problems in Chicago, but you don't hear what was done about those cases."

A spokesman for Cook County's top prosecutor says the office doesn't shy away from charging police officers.

"In the 11 years that Dick Devine has been state's attorney we have charged at least one police officer a month. That's more than 130 police officers who have been charged," said John Gorman, a Devine spokesman. "This office has an unblemished record of prosecuting any police officer where there is sufficient evidence to charge."
Sharpton has other baggage that certainly gives me pause, but I do think he'll have a tought time with the city's political establishment. Maybe not because of history in New York, though at this moment, he may not know how things work here. Though who knows he might be right at home here, assuming that he has some people who know the process in Chicago.

Anyway here's more, Rev. Jackson wants to work with Rev. Sharpton...
The announcement that Sharpton will be opening up shop in Chicago comes as the mayor prepares to name a new police superintendent.
An attempt to reach a spokesman for the mayor was unsuccessful.

Sharpton is already a regular voice in Chicago with his syndicated radio show broadcast on WVON-AM (1690).

Now Sharpton, these days thinner in body and pompadour, will become a regular face here -- moving in on territory where the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH/Coalition are firmly rooted.

Heading Sharpton's Chicago effort is a civil rights force in her own right. A South Sider, chapter president Jeri Wright, 41, is the daughter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor to presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

Jackson said he'll work with Sharpton, as he has in the past. Earlier this year, they teamed up to push CBS to fire Don Imus after the radio host made controversial comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. But Jackson sees Sharpton's Chicago mission as somewhat duplicative of his and other local civil rights groups.

"We've been focusing on the Jon Burge torture cases," through radio and cable access programming, Jackson said. "We confronted . . . music distributors on language degrading women -- those are cultural issues.
Well we'll see if Sharpton and Jackson can work together and perhaps bring about some positive changes in the Chicago Police.

Two Chicago area blogs also talked about this story this morning
Marathon Pundit: Sharpton setting up a shop in Chicago
Uptown Avenger: Tom Snyder Kaput and Sharpton in Chicago

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