Rev. Al Sharpton Tuesday said that the $5.9 million settlement to the family of Eric Garner is not justice.
“Money is not justice,” Sharpton said at a rally according to the local affiliate of CBS. “Money is a recognition of the loss of the family. But it does not deal with the criminal and other wrongs done to this family and other families.”
Sharpton has been a vocal proponent for paying reparations for past slavery in America. And he has been criticized more recently by Garner’s family for caring too much about money, with Garner’s eldest daughter Erica Snipes caught on camera saying, “He [Sharpton] is about this,” while making a hand motion to signal money.
The record-high settlement was charged against Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who put Garner, a black man, in a chokehold in 2014 that resulted in his death. Garner was heard shouting that he couldn’t breathe as he was wrestled to the ground. The incident made national headlines and sparked a debate on police using excessive force and institutional racism. Clarifying his earlier comment, Sharpton noted that it is up to the family to decide whether the settlement is enough.
“Settlements are based on what the parties think the loss is,” Sharpton told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They said they want a federal investigation.”
Sharpton has built a career on advocating for civil rights and racial injustice. But while being secretly filmed by Project Veritas, Garner’s daughter seemed to accuse Sharpton of exploiting her father’s death. When the video was released, however, she denied accusing Sharpton of greed, according to the New York Post.
“Al Sharpton paid for the funeral. She’s trying to make me feel like I owe them,” she had said on camera.
“No, I didn’t say that I think Al Sharpton is all about the money,” she backtracked to the Post.
According to Mediaite, Sharpton and his organizations have been accused of accepting a significant payment to look the other way in a racial discrimination case involving companies including Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Sharpton called the accusation “ludicrous” and untruthful.
“Comcast signed a momentum of understanding,” Sharpton noted. “They committed to four minority-owned television station.”
The agreement contained several provisions the companies have adhered to, Sharpton says, and it allowed the companies to resolve problems that could have been seen as racially discriminative in a peaceful way that didn’t need to involve public outrage.
Additionally, some have accused Sharpton of using threats of racial accusations to solicit money from companies. According to the New York Post, for more than a decade corporations have paid thousands of dollars in donations and consulting fees to National Action Network (NAN), which Sharpton is the president and founder of. In return, the article charges, Sharpton would not call the corporation racist or mobilize the black community against it.
“They were never accused of racism,” Sharpton declared. The companies, Sharpton claimed, gave to NAN because they shared a common social or political interest. The article listed companies like AT&T, McDonald’s, Verizon and Walmart as a few examples. In each case, Sharpton argued, the contributions had nothing to do with NAN keeping quiet about real or made up racism.
In the case of Plainfield Asset Management, which indirectly gave $500,000 to NAN, Sharpton said they were partners and supported the same educational program. Additionally, Sharpton noted, some company executives serve on the board for NAN, so its would be only natural for them to want to contribute.
Though he argues money does not necessarily equal justice in the Garner case, he has taken a different approach when it comes to slave reparations. Specifically he said back in 2008 that corporate reparations for slavery would be good for America.
“I think that corporations and insurance companies, just like those corporations that were engaged in things with the Nazis in Germany,” Sharpton told CNSNews.com at the time. “[They] should pay when they unfairly benefited from the sufferings of people.”
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