Friday :: Dec 12, 2003

Al Got The Point Across

by pessimist

AL Sharpton, presidential candidate, reaches $200,000 settlement with NYC over 1991 protest stabbing incident

December 7, 2003 -- Al Sharpton has filed a civil suit alleging New York City police failed to protect him from being attacked at a protest in 1991, his lawyer said. The suit, filed a decade ago, had argued that police promised to protect Sharpton, who called the march to protest sentences given a day earlier to two men involved in the killing.

"Either through negligence, carelessness or recklessness, a man was able to breach a safety zone created by the police to protect Rev. Sharpton, and stab him with a 5-inch knife," declared lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing Sharpton in the suit. Rubenstein said police had established a protocol for protecting Sharpton during protests, and failed to shield him the day he was stabbed inside what was supposed to be a secure area. Sharpton's attacker approached him, plunged the knife into his chest, and fled. "And though there were over 200 policemen standing around ... none of them made a move to grab him," Sharpton wrote in his autobiography, adding that it was his aides who tackled Riccardi. Sharpton had received several death threats, and was provided police protection at key points in the trials of the white defendants.

December 9, 2003 -- The city has agreed yesterday to pay Al Sharpton $200,000 in damages after he was stabbed nearly 13 years ago at a 1991 Brooklyn protest rally. Sharpton claimed police failed to protect him from a drunken white man who plunged a 5-inch kitchen knife into his chest. The settlement, including an agreement to pay Sharpton's $7,447.76 hospital bill, was reached in a courthouse hallway as jury selection was about to begin Monday in the trial of a civil suit Sharpton filed for the civil trial in his suit against the New York Police Department. Sharpton accused the NYPD of being "careless, negligent and reckless" in the 1991 incident, said his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein.

In announcing the settlement, his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said, "I'm pleased that Rev. Sharpton doesn't have to relive the nightmare of the stabbing on the witness stand, but he was prepared to testify. I'm pleased that after this long period of time, this matter has been resolved so that Reverend Sharpton does not have to relive the nightmare of the stabbing and the circumstances with regard to it," Rubenstein told The Associated Press.

Sharpton did not attend the news conference but said through Rubenstein that he decided to settle the suit because the city agreed to pay his hospital bill "and pay a fair amount of damages for the injures I suffered."

Kate O'Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department, read a statement which said that city officials "strongly believed that the NYPD acted appropriately. However, the city could not predict how a jury might rule and therefore believed that settlement was the best resolution for all parties involved," she said. "It did not admit any fault by the NYPD or any liability."

Sharpton, 49, says in the suit that he suffered physical and psychological injuries after Michael Riccardi approached him, plunged a five-inch knife into his chest and tried to flee as Sharpton was preparing to lead the protest in a Brooklyn schoolyard. Rubenstein said then-Mayor David Dinkins had promised to protect Sharpton at the rallies but failed to do so on the day he was stabbed. "Though there were over 200 policemen standing around, none of them made a move to grab him," Sharpton said in his autobiography, "Go and Tell Pharaoh," claiming his aides tackled Riccardi.

The civil-rights leader, who is running for president, was stabbed in January 1991, just blocks from where black teenager Yusuf Hawkins was cornered and fatally shot, while holding the 20th rally to protest sentences given the previous day to two white youths involved in the slaying. One was fined and ordered to perform community service. Only the gunman, Joseph Fama, was convicted of murder. Protesters had staged 19 previous demonstrations in the predominantly white neighborhood of Bensonhurst in the two years after Hawkins was killed there in August 1989 by a group of white youths wielding baseball bats. Hostile Bensonhurst residents shouted racial epithets at demonstrators, threw watermelons, spat in their faces, and told them to "go home."

Michael Riccardi was convicted of first-degree assault in the stabbing and was sentenced to the maximum of five to 15 years in prison. He was cleared of other charges including attempted murder in the second degree, discrimination and aggravated harassment.

Sharpton suffered a punctured lung and spent five days at Coney Island Hospital. The Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Sharpton in the hospital the day after he was stabbed, urging the community to "put down the guns and the knives and look for some alternative to this escalating violence."

Sharpton says that he suffered emotional trauma, permanent scarring to his chest and lung damage that still disrupts his breathing as a result of the attack. "I look at those actual, real scars on my body from racism. ... People always accuse me of preaching hate, but I see it every morning in the mirror, and will continue to see it every morning as long as I live," he wrote in his book, titled "Go and Tell Pharaoh."

Say what you will about Al Sharpton's activities, but it takes a brave man to walk into the lion's den of racial hatred and face the howling hordes.

Source Links

Al Sharpton files suit in 1991 stabbing incident

NYC to Pay $200K to Al Sharpton in Case Against NYPD

Sharpton reaches $200,000 settlement with NYC over protest stabbing

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pessimist :: 3:37 AM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!