Al Sharpton: ‘Some People Exploiting Differences Between Us for Their Own Advantage’

Fred Lucas | July 29, 2013 | 3:23pm EDT
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Rev. Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC's 'Politics Nation.' (AP)

( – Reverend Al Sharpton, known for racially divisive rhetoric as an activist, political candidate, and talk show host, accused conservatives Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly -- who he termed “the unholy triumvirate of right-wing reaction” --  of “exploiting differences between us for their own advantage” following the George Zimmerman verdict.

“We have a long history in this country of some people exploiting differences between us for their own advantage,” Sharpton said on his MSNBC talk show, Politics Nation, on Friday. “It’s a cynical appeal to the worst instincts in our great country.”

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Sharpton went on to denounce conservative talk show hosts who commented on the acquittal of Zimmerman, 29, who had shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after an altercation in February 2012. Zimmerman said his actions had been in self-defense.

“And in the time since George Zimmerman’s acquittal, some right wingers have gone into overdrive to push the most negative stereotypes of the African-American community for their own gain,” Sharpton said. “The Rush-Hannity-O’Reilly crowd, the unholy triumvirate of right-wing reaction, has been desperate not to have a real conversation about the injustices of the criminal justice system.”

Sharpton ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

In 1987, Sharpton claimed that Tawana Brawley, then a 15-year-old black woman, was abducted and raped by a group of white men. After the case was later determined to be a fraud, Sharpton lost a $345,000 defamation lawsuit, but refused to recant his allegations.

In 1991, a Hassidic Jewish driver in Brooklyn accidently struck and killed a 7-year-old back child, Gavin Cato. Sharpton referred to Jewish people as “diamond merchants” during Cato’s  funeral. Sharpton also led demonstrations through Jewish neighborhoods in New York City. One of the demonstrations became violent and led to the stabbing death of a rabbi student.

In 1995, after the Jewish owners of Freddy’s Fashion Mart raised the rent on a black-owned music store, Sharpton led another demonstration in front of the establishment. Sharpton reportedly said, “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.”

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