Al Sharpton is one of the many liberals who have accused GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump of advocating violence against protesters at his rallies.
But it was the civil rights leader himself who during a Sept. 9, 2003 Democratic debate threatened to sic “young brothers” from his non-profit group, the National Action Network, on Lyndon LaRouche supporters who disrupted the event because their candidate was not invited.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait until the security people do their jobs,” Fox News moderator Brit Hume said after a supporter of the political activist LaRouche interrupted then-Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
“Do they do that to the Republicans?” an unidentified woman, either a debate moderator or former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, can be heard saying.
That’s when Sharpton chimed in with a not-so-veiled threat against the protester.
“If y’all can’t secure this, we have some young brothers here from National Action Network — we will,” Sharpton said, pointing off stage to where members of his organization were seemingly sitting.
“You’re playing this phony liberal game and wait ’til our night to start acting up,” he said to the LaRouche protesters. “We don’t appreciate it. I don’t care who’s not on this stage, you’re going to respect us on this stage because we’ve got something to say. So if you’ve got some problems say it now.”
The MSNBC and radio host recently criticized Trump for the rhetoric he has used at his campaign rallies.
“This is the most reckless, violent, despicable election season that any of us have seen in our life time,” Sharpton said at his weekly National Action Network rally in Harlem this weekend.
“If I had said any of the things Trump has been saying, they would have ran me out of the race,” Sharpton added.
Trump has come under heavy criticism by some who say he has promoted violence against protesters who disrupt his rallies. A 78-year-old man sucker-punched a protester at a North Carolina event last week. During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Trump said he had instructed his campaign to look into paying the man’s legal bills.
Trump’s supporters have countered, claiming that protesters are engaging in violence and purposely trying to shut down the Republican’s rallies.
In his critique of Trump, Sharpton issued another ironic accusation.
“He says things for which he does not have to take responsibility,” Sharpton said.
But whether true or not, Sharpton can also be accused of not taking responsibility for his words or the consequences of his rhetoric.
The ordained minister is perhaps most famous for his role in the Tawana Brawley case in which a 15-year-old black teenager falsely accused six white men of gang-raping her and writing racial slurs on her body. Sharpton represented Brawley and pushed many of her lies to the media. He still has not admitted that Brawley perpetuated a hoax.
Sharpton also led the 1995 protests against a Harlem clothing store called Freddie’s Fashion Mart, which was owned by a Jewish tenant named Fred Harari.
Harari’s landlord, a black Pentecostal church, had ordered him to evict his sub-tenant, a black-owned record store called The Record Shack. In recorded conversations during the height of the protest, Sharpton was heard calling Harari a “white interloper.”
The standoff ended tragically when, in Dec. 1995, a protester named Roland Smith Jr. entered the store, shot several employees, and set fire to the store before killing himself. Seven others died of smoke inhalation. Sharpton apologized in 2002 for the “white interloper” remark but not for provoking Smith to action.