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Sharpton-Backed Legislation Will Hamstring Cops, Increase Crime

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Al Sharpton’s heart is still in New York City.  But these past several years his head has been in Washington, retooling his nonprofit National Action Network into a congressional lobbying powerhouse.  The group is trying to secure passage of wide-ranging legislation, part of which is a Senate bill to make far more difficult for white police to question or arrest black criminal suspects without inviting legal repercussions upon themselves and their departments.  The likely result would be even more of the rapidly escalating violence in the nation’s streets.  NAN and the youthful demagogues known as Black Lives Matter have been catalysts in this public safety disaster.  Yet to the participants on NAN panels last Tuesday at the Rayburn House Office Building, the main focus was “white racism.”

As National Legal and Policy Center noted at length in the wake of last July’s “Legislative & Policy Conference,” Reverend Al Sharpton knows how to “work within the system.”  This is not to say that he has forgotten how to foment street protests on behalf of blacks whom he feels have been unjustly denied their rights.  But his evolution from rabble rouser to civil-rights gray eminence, at least as a public image, since the early part of the last decade has won him access to the highest levels of power.  Sharpton has been a registered visitor at the Obama White House dozens of times, and tit for tat, President Obama was the marquee speaker at the National Action Network annual banquets in New York City in 2011 and 2014.  The Reverend Al also played a key role in clearing the way for Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. Attorney General two years ago following the unexpected resignation announcement of her predecessor, Eric Holder.  And for the last five years he has hosted a news and commentary show, “PoliticsNation,” on MSNBC-TV.  Meanwhile, NAN coffers are fatter than ever.  During calendar year 2014, the Harlem-based organization pulled in some $7 million in donations from all sources, up from around $5 million just a year earlier.  Corporate sponsors of this spring’s NAN convention included AT&T, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Denny’s, Facebook, FedEx, Google, Home Depot, Macy’s, MasterCard, PepsiCo, Time Warner, Verizon and Walmart.  PepsiCo and Comcast since have gone the extra mile, bankrolling last week’s Washington policy conference.

Al Sharpton has become a very popular person in certain quarters on Capitol Hill.  Since 2012 he has held “From Demonstration to Legislation” conferences with the intent of lobbying members of Congress.  Democratic Party leaders provided him with a hero’s welcome.  In a prepared statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., offered:

For a quarter century, NAN has been instrumental to advancing justice and equality.  NAN strives to amplify the voices of African-Americans in the legislative process so that all communities enjoy equality of opportunity.  This year’s theme – From Demonstration to Legislation – embodies America’s rich history of progress.  It also challenges us to keep moving, mobilizing, and organizing to create a more just America for all.

Thanks to the vision of NAN’s founder, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and all the hard-working activists and advocates in communities across America, together we are ensuring that no one in our nation is overlooked or undervalued.  Through your work and your visionary leadership, you strengthen our democracy.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., similarly stated:  “Founded 25 years ago by Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network (NAN) works to build public awareness and find solutions for the issues impacting our most vulnerable populations.  Inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., NAN has propelled the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s into the modern era.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., also heaped on the praise:  “Since the National Action Network’s inception in 1991 under the esteemed leadership of Reverend Sharpton, this organization has brought many important issues to the forefront of our national conversation, from education and employment, to voter registration, to criminal justice and equal protection under the law.  Over the last 25 years, NAN has served as a lifeline, providing critical services and resources when New Yorkers needed them most.”  And in the spirit of bipartisanship, Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., a “black conservative,” praised NAN as a strong advocate for the interests of everyday American people.

Reverend Sharpton isn’t lacking admirers.  But he didn’t come to Washington to be admired.  He came to get legislation passed.  And he’s transforming National Action Network, which may or may not be registered as a lobbying organization, into a lobbying outfit toward that purpose.  Aided by NAN Washington bureau chief, Eboni Riley, Sharpton made clear his desire to reach lawmakers, announcing on the eve of the conference:  

By taking the fight for our issues directly to the halls of Congress we are sending a clear message in this election year and into the future:  We will not let voting rights be trampled on, we stand for equal protection under the law for everyone, and that the future of the Supreme Court matters.  NAN has a long and proud history of taking the fight for justice from the streets across the country to the powers that-be in our nation’s capital – and we look forward to meeting with congressional leaders to convey our message.

A number of lawmakers were all too eager to lend a hand.  Fully 11 of the scheduled speakers – four Representatives and seven Senators – were members of Congress.  They were:  Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C., Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Andre Carson, D-Ind., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Minn., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.     

National Action Network speaks of fighting for justice.  Yet its priority legislation in the current 114th Congress is based on the false assumption that blacks in this country are systematically being denied justice.  To NAN, any attempt to roll back pro-black favoritism (i.e., affirmative action) constitutes a desire to return to the dark ages of American life.  That conviction is reflected in its legislative advocacy.  For one thing, Sharpton and company are pressing for passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 3899, S. 1945).  This legislation would undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder exempting certain Southern states, and under certain circumstances, from having to comply with preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  The decision, far from “disenfranchising” blacks or anyone else, as Sharpton claims, was sound and overdue.  As NLPC noted last September, these preclearance mandates were created under VRA amendments as a way of ensuring that Southern states would not discourage blacks from voting.  Not only has the law long has outlived its usefulness, it has evolved into a tool for blocking these states from imposing even modest checks against voter registration and ballot fraud.  To Sharpton and his minions, this constitutes “discrimination” because blacks likely would be purged from the voting rolls at higher rates than whites – as if election fraud is something to be ignored so long as blacks are committing it. 

There is much more.  National Action Network supports the Democracy Restoration Act, which would restore voting rights in federal elections to an estimated 4.4 million released criminal convicts.  It also is urging passage of legislation that would penalize financial institutions who turn down credit applications of members of minority groups, thus opening a whole new area of bank shakedown lawsuits and out-of-court settlements.  It demands business “diversity and inclusion” mandates to ensure that blacks and other racial minorities are assured a stake in for-profit enterprises.  And NAN also wants Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to expand the Lifeline (aka “Obamaphone”) program that subsidizes phone service for low-income subscribers.  As National Legal and Policy Center discussed at length last June, this program, initiated back in the mid-Eighties, is both needless and riddled with fraud.

The areas of criminal justice and gun control were the main focus of the discussion panels.  On the plus side, National Action Network supports the Sentencing and Reform and Corrections Act (S.2123), which would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain types of nonviolent drug offenses and the Youth Promise Act (H.R. 2197), which would offer alternatives to incarceration for youthful offenders.  On the minus side, NAN supports an atrocious piece of legislation, the End Racial Profiling Act, that would apply affirmative action quotas to the police identification, questioning and arrests of criminal suspects.  As NAN describes it, the measure “mandates racial bias training for all law enforcement agencies receiving federal funds; addresses the problem of police misconduct and brutality; strengthens personal property rights under the Fifth Amendment to ensure due process of law by reforming civil asset forfeiture laws, which disproportionately impact people of color.”  Let’s cut the sophistry.  This bill has nothing to do with combating police “brutality.”  It is a virtual blank check for black criminals to assault and murder white cops and civilians.  Anyone denying this is not living in the real world. 

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