According to reports in at least two newspapers, Rev. Al Sharpton’s presence at the last couple of major national fatal shootings of unarmed black men is not wanted. There is a growing sentiment, says these publications assert boldly, that the civil rights leader has been using the family’s tragedies to get attention and funding for his National Action Network and not for the grieving families.
That was the message from the family of South Carolina police shooting victim Walter Scott to the civil rights activist Thursday two days before the funeral for the slain father of four, The New York Daily News stated.
Scott, of course, was running away from Officer Michael Slaber when he was pumped with five shots in the back after a routine traffic stop, sparking national outrage from the right and the left. Slaber is holed up in a local South Carolina jail on second-degree murder charges and was quickly fired from his job.
The family wants desperately to avoid the kind of scene that enveloped the cities of Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island in New York City when Michael Brown and Eric Garner were killed by police.
“We don’t want another Ferguson type of circus here,” a source close to the Scott family told the NYDN.
Scott family attorney Chris Stewart said they appreciate Sharpton’s support but “the funeral is only going to be close family members.”
“The Reverend Al has called and expressed his support and condolences,” said Stewart. “The family is very appreciative.”
Sharpton pushed back on the newspaper claims and counters with the fact that he was busy with his NAN national convention in New York.
“There has never been a discussion about me attending or participating in the funeral on Saturday, since everyone knows that [National Action Network’s] convention with thousands of delegates is happening in New York and doesn’t end until Saturday night,” he said, according to the DailyMailOnline.
However, Sharpton is scheduled to appear at a church in North Charleston, S.C., in proximity the scene of the violent episode, to preach and lead a vigil the day after the funeral.