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Rev. Sharpton Crown Heights Letter

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					Public Letter from Reverend Al Sharpton to Rabbi Marc Schneier:

August 18, 2011

Rabbi Marc Schneier
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
1 East 93 Street, Suite 1C
New York, NY 10128

Dear Marc:

I realize that for the last two days the people in my office at National Action Network
have been working with your office to adjust the times of Sunday's scheduled event so
that it can be earlier in the day so as to not conflict with my live radio show.
Over the last twenty-hours I have been made aware of local detractors of yours and
mine that want to engage in the business of division and distortion rather than respect
your work and attempt to have dialogue even among those that may disagree.
I remember when the government of Israel invited me into the country in 2001. In a
meeting with then foreign minister, Shimon Peres, who hosted my trip, he encouraged
and arranged for me to bring my message against terrorism (in the wake of the 9/11
attack) to Yasir Arafat. You very publicly said I should never meet with Arafat, even if
Peres sent me. However, you have also stood with us when injustices and intolerance
occurred.

It is for that reason I accepted your invitation and tried to adjust my schedule because
over the years you have been that leader that national figures respect to be a healer.
One who can provide a fair forum even if your congregants may question or disagree
with the speaker, whether it's Hillary Clinton coming to your Synagogue after kissing
Arafat's wife's cheek or Glenn Beck last week. Please do not let shallow petty people
reduce you from your coveted role in this nation. However, there are those who want to
distort and rewrite history for their own purposes.

Governor Mario Cuomo commissioned a state study on Crown Heights that painstaking
examined all sides. Even that report made it clear that I had no role in any violence. In
fact, the night that Yankel Rosenbaum was viciously killed I was at home in New Jersey
and did not know that any violence had occurred. I came into Crown Heights and
eulogized Gavin Cato at the request of his family and led peaceful protests. If people
disagreed with my language or reasons for peaceful protests, that is why you have
dialogue, which we have had many forums about over the last twenty years. Putting
aside the demagoguery, Norman Rosenbaum, who I have never met or talked to lost
his brother. Despite the ugly things he has said about Mayor David Dinkins or me down
through the years he speaks from his pain, a pain I feel has been misinformed and
manipulated. You and I should separate the demagoguery of some from the pain of a
brother if we are to be the leaders we seek to be.

The same year of the Crown Heights riot, a white man stabbed me in my chest while I
was leading a peaceful march in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn while protesting the racial killing
of Yusuf Hawkins. I went to that man's trial and stood before the judge and forgave him.
I later visited him in jail. I must look at that scar every morning to this very day. I did it to
be a better leader and a better person.

It is in that spirit that I seek to respect Normon Rosenbaum and the pain he must feel,
even though in my opinion he has been exploited and mislead about me, Mayor Dinkins
and others in our community. We must seek to heal people's pain and not just seek to
defend ourselves.

Since the event has now been distorted and would cause pain to him, I, out of respect
to his request, have decided to decline to participate in Sunday's event.

In fact, I recommend that you reschedule the event to a time that is not confused with a
rehashing of what happened,which would only lead to unhealthy demagoguery seeking
to distort the events around Crown Heights. There should be a conversation where
true leaders can talk about our true differences and need for reconciliation to further
progress between Black and Jewish communities.

I have made mistakes in my career, but the allegations around Crown Heights, which
is proven to be patently untrue, was not one of them and I seek to continue to grow
as I hope you will. My language and tone at times has been questioned and at times
has been over the line. I wish to discuss this openly so that others may grow by my
example. Clearly, the Al Sharpton of 2011 is not the Al Sharpton of 1991.

Next weekend I will be part of the ceremony for the unveiling of the monument
dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I will lead a march on that Saturday for jobs with
his eldest son Martin Luther King, III. I hope you will join us, as Jewish leaders joined
Dr. King 48-years-ago. There were extremists in both communities at that time that
attacked Dr. King and those leaders that stood with him anyhow. None of us are even
remotely near being a Dr. King, but even flawed men can walk in his path and in walking
in his path you must stand against those who are in the business of division. In doing
so, however, we must not step over those in genuine pain.

Yours In Progress,

Reverend Al Sharpton

				
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