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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 breaks promise to Trayvon supporters, fails to show up in Sanford for Easter ‘Occupation’

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

On Easter Sunday the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host, broke a major promise he made to those supporting him and the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin: He didn’t show up in Sanford, Fla., to “occupy” the town.

On March 26 Sharpton vowed to “occupy” Sanford over Easter weekend to show support for Trayvon, the 17-year-old black teen who was shot by Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26.

“We’re going to have a full blown occupation of Sanford with tents and everything over Easter weekend until [authorities] either arrest George Zimmerman, or arrest us for praying for his arrest,” Sharpton told ABC News about two weeks before Easter.

On Easter weekend, however, Sharpton is nowhere to be found in the central Florida town. Instead, according to his Twitter feed, he’s in Harlem.

“On my way to MSNBC to do the Melissa Harris Perry Show live at 11 15 AM EST,” Sharpton said in a tweet on Easter morning around 10:30 a.m. “Then I preach the Easter services at St. Lukes Baptist in Harlem.”

Sharpton also spent Saturday in Harlem, according to his Twitter feed. “I speak at the Saturday Action Rally at the House of Justice,” Sharpton tweeted around 7 a.m. on Saturday. “Tune in live from 9-11 AM EST at http://www.nationalactionnetwork.net.”

The “House of Justice” is located in Harlem.

It’s unclear why Sharpton chose to abandon supporters of calls for “Justice for Trayvon.” Neither National Action Network spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger nor MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines responded to The Daily Caller’s requests for comment on why he broke his promise.

The reason may be related to recent disclosures about the Martin shooting — facts which have not mirrored the point of view presented by Sharpton and his allies. Since Sharpton first promised he would occupy Sanford over Easter weekend, several elements of his favored storyline have fallen apart.

A video record of Sanford police taking Zimmerman into the town’s lockup shortly after the Martin killing shows what appears to be a gash or wound of some kind on Zimmerman’s head, plainly visible in the footage.

Controversial filmmaker Spike Lee tweeted the address of what he thought was Zimmerman’s house. It turned out to be an innocent elderly couple’s home, and Lee subsequently made a public apology and provided a financial settlement with the couple for potentially putting them in danger.

CNN’s audio experts have walked back their audio analysis that determined Zimmerman muttered the racist phrase “fucking coons” on the 911 call he made shortly before he shot Martin. They later conceded that Zimmerman more likely said “fucking punks.”

NBC News has fired a producer who selectively and deceptively edited that same 911 call for broadcast, to make it appear as though Zimmerman inserted Martin’s race into the discussion. It was, in fact, the 911 operator who first asked Zimmerman if the teenager was “black, white or Hispanic.” Zimmerman responded: “I think he’s black.”

ABC News and CNN have both come under fire, too, for how they handled certain elements of the case.

Since Sharpton made that now-broken promise to “occupy” Sanford over Easter weekend, it has been discovered that Zimmerman is a registered Democrat.

While he is an Hispanic man, he was often originally described incorrectly as “white” or even “white Hispanic.”

And The Daily Caller broke news that Zimmerman advocated for the disciplining of at least two of the police officers investigating him. That demand stemmed from the brutal beating of a homeless black man by a white police officer’s son. Zimmerman led demands for justice for that victim, Sherman Ware, and distributed flyers throughout the black community.

UPDATE, 9:05 p.m.: In emails to TheDC on Sunday, National Action Network spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger claimed Sharpton publicly announced last weekend that his Easter plans had changed. She was unable, however, to provide any evidence to support that claim. CNN did report that Sharpton held a press conference last weekend, during which he rebutted reports that he would organize a boycott of Sanford, Fla. businesses. Neither Noerdlinger nor TheDC, however, could find evidence that Sharpton reconsidered his promise of “a full blown occupation of Sanford with tents and everything over Easter weekend.”

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