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From left, family attorney Benjamin Crump, Trayvon Martin From left, family attorney Benjamin Crump, Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, Rev. Al Sharpton and Trayvon's father Tracy Martin speak to thousands gathered before the evening rally at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Fla. Thursday, March 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Julie Fletcher)  

Sharpton emcees racially-focused Sanford rally, warns against use of violence

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

SANFORD, Fla. — The Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host and liberal political figure, riled up a mostly-black Sanford, Fla., crowd on Thursday night in the wake of the killing of 17-year-old student Trayvon Martin.

“Some people said to me in the media — ‘Let me get this straight,’ they said. ‘Reverend, it seems like there’s a lot of people who are angry — are you afraid of violence?’” Sharpton preached to the central Floridian crowd. “I said, ‘No. I’m afraid of the violence you already had.’”

“Violence is killing Tray Martin,” Sharpton continued. “Don’t act like we are the ones [who are] violent. We didn’t shoot nobody.”

Despite his harsh rhetoric, Sharpton warned the thousands in attendance to avoid resorting to violence at all costs as the Martin case progresses. “I want our people to understand that how you behave is going to be a reflection on this case,” Sharpton instructed the crowd. “[No matter] how angry we get, don’t let them make you act in a way that they will say, ‘see, that’s what to think with Trayvon.’”

“We are going to act intelligent,” Sharpton said. “We going to act dignified. And, we’re going to be determined. We may be angry, but we’re not mad dogs. We’re too smart to fall for [that].”

Left-wing radio host Joe Madison — known as the “Black Eagle” — spoke about how he thinks the shooting of Martin is a sign of overt racism. “In America, we are culturally conditioned to believe that white is superior, black is inferior,” Madison said. “The manifestation of that cultural valuing is that black people are undervalued, underestimated and marginalized.”

Madison alleges that this incident was a “hate crime” and said that he, Sharpton, and the others who came to the rally, did so to “protect” other young men in Sanford and elsewhere. “And, let me say something to these Republican candidates, if I might,” Madison added with a hint of animosity in his tone. “Don’t you ever, ever say again that there aren’t any role models in America.”

Madison also said he and the others came to “protect” Mickey Mouse — another “very important citizen of Florida.”

“A little black fellow that wear white shoes, and he’s got big ears,” Madison said, describing the classic cartoon character whose creator’s theme park, Walt Disney World, is mere miles away from Sanford. “Hell, if he had been wearing a hoodie, he would have got shot,” Madison said. “Mickey Mouse would have been shot.”

Another left-wing radio host, Mark Thompson of Sirius radio, compared Martin’s case to that of Emmett Till’s. Till was a 14-year-old black teenager killed in Mississippi after allegedly flirting with a white woman. Like Martin, Till was only visiting the area he was killed in and, like Martin, Till was not identified for three days.

“We have seen this before,” Thompson declared on stage while making the comparison between Till and Martin. “This is racism perpetrated by violence. And where you have racism perpetrated by violence, one of the result of that is that African American adults in general are infantilized and black men are emasculated.”

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