Does the New York Post have, at long last, no sense of decency?
That, anyway, was the reaction of the Rev. Al Sharpton Friday morning when he saw the rabble-rousing cover of Rupert Murdoch’s American tabloid—a blurry photograph of two prostrate Dallas police officers lying beside squad cars, apparently the victims of a sniper, and the headline, “CIVIL WAR: Four cops killed at anti-police protest.”
The 61-year-old Baptist minister-cum-New York celebrity, a frequent target of the right-leaning paper who runs the National Action Network civil rights organization and hosts a Sunday morning talk show on MSNBC, told The Daily Beast: “I thought the cover of the Post was unnecessarily incendiary and inflammatory. Although I unequivocally denounce what happened in Dallas and have stood with the families in Baton Rouge and Minnesota”—where cops were caught on video this week shooting and killing young African American men without apparent justification—“by no stretch of the imagination is this a civil war.”
He added: “To say it’s a civil war is to act like all policemen are like the two cops in Louisiana and Minnesota, and that all blacks are like whoever the gunmen were in Dallas. The Civil War was two regions of the country fighting against each other, not individuals that were stepping outside of the boundaries of the law.”
Sharpton, however, is only slightly surprised by the Post’s approach to Thursday night’s carnage in Texas at the end of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest of the police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing I expect from them,” Sharpton said. “But I would think that given the current sensitivity of the moment, even this is too far for them.”
Top Post editor Stephen Lynch, who in May took over from longtime editor in chief Col Allan, didn’t respond to a request for comment as of this writing. Nor did the paper’s publisher, Jesse Angelo.
Sharpton, who said he’s been asked to visit Baton Rouge by local ministers and the family of victim Alton Sterling and plans a trip early next week, was more shocked by a nasty tweet by former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, a Tea Party Republican.
“This is now war,” Walsh tweeted shortly after the horrific events in Dallas, which ultimately resulted in five dead officers and another seven wounded in the deadliest attack on law enforcement in the United States since 9/11. “Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”
Walsh, these days a conservative radio talk jock, later deleted that tweet, according to the Chicago Tribune, but in subsequent Twitter posts he doubled down, calling the Black Lives Matter activists “uneducated black thugs,” and adding unconvincingly, “I wasn’t calling for violence against Obama or anyone. Obama’s words and BLM’s deeds have gotten cops killed.”
Sharpton’s response: “I thought that was as ugly as you could get, and it has caused concerned to the people in Louisiana, where I’ve been asked to come down, even my security. You don’t know what kind of nuts he could provoke.”
Meanwhile, Sharpton urged that supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement turn their concerns into concrete criminal justice reform legislation, pending in Congress, and law enforcement reform policies recommended by President Obama, much like activists of the 1960s helped enact civil rights and voting rights laws.
He suggested that making police-involved shootings the subject of independent prosecutors, and requiring all cops to wear body cameras, would go a long way toward defusing the anger provoked by such incidents and “change the permanent landscape.”
“‘Black Lives Matter’ is a hashtag, just like ‘No Justice, No Peace,’ is a slogan,” Sharpton said, adding that if no reforms are enacted, “we will just have moments that will be episodic and little will change…Don’t forget we had Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and then a guy shot two cops in New York, and then we went back to our sides and nothing happened. I don’t want us to keep going through these episodes rather than having real change so we can stop this.
“We don’t have to remake the wheel. We just gotta turn it.”