What's Happening In Your World

NYPD Caught Spying on Al Sharpton, National Action Network

by Dr. Boyce Watkins – Your Black World

It has been reported that the National Action Network (NAN) is considering all legal options after evidence has surfaced that the New York Police Department has been spying on the organization and its leader, Rev. Al Sharpton.

According to the Huffington Post, the NYPD has placed spies outside the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network and even gone as far as trying to discredit Sharpton by spreading the rumor that he is gay.   The post alleges that the NYPD placed a spy inside NAN meetings to find out how the group planned to protest the acquittal of officers responsible for the killing of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man, right before his wedding.

Paul J. Browne, the NYPD’s spokesman, has confirmed that the organization sought to gather intelligence inside NAN meetings.  He does claim, however, that they weren’t trying to dig up dirt.

“Neither the Rev. Sharpton nor the National Action Network, but a separate individual who was present was the subject of the NYPD Intelligence Division’s interest at the May 3, 2008 meeting in question,” Browne said.

Len Levitt, who wrote the article for the Huffington Post, says that Browne’s statement is inaccurate.

“Two undercover police officers who spied on black protest groups in the 1980s told this reporter in 1998 that the department was so intent on discrediting Sharpton that they were tasked by their superiors to spread rumors that he was homosexual.”

“The NYPD’s spying actions are an intolerable abuse by law enforcement, and remind us of the bad days when J. Edgar Hoover recklessly spied on Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders in the 1960s,” said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.

NAACP President Ben Jealous said this: “If NYPD is spying on civil rights leaders, it is outrageous and must be stopped.”

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. said: “African American leaders have historically been the subject of unlawful spying by law enforcement officials seeking to discredit our leaders and our movement. The revelation about the New York Police Department spying on Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network in 2008 are wrong — Police Commissioner Kelly, as he promised over a year ago, must issue a full fact finding report on the matter, fully disclose the spying activities of the police department and make restitution to Rev. Sharpton and NAN for this invasion of privacy.”

We all know that Al Sharpton is not perfect.  I have given honest critiques of the good and bad of Sharpton in the past.  Also, as the son of a 25-year police veteran, I’ve been able to obtain some understanding of that which is necessary to do proper police work.

But these allegations are, without question, disturbing.  There’s credibility to what Levitt is saying, in large part because our government has made an historic living by spying on high-profile African Americans.   Almost no one can bring a crowd together like Al Sharpton, and there is almost no bigger threat to the NYPD.

While it is not entirely clear whether NAN has grounds for a lawsuit against the NYPD, this should give us a moment of pause to understand the imagery we see when it comes to African Americans who are visible in the public eye.  Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are presented to us, in some cases, as clowns who are hungry for media attention.  Many of these images are manufactured by oppressive forces who become concerned about the idea of African Americans becoming empowered and fighting for their rights.   Both Jesse and Al are strong, intelligent men, and many of the media portrayals are highly inaccurate.

I recall being told by a high ranking police official that because speak openly about politics and black empowerment, I was probably in quite a few police files. This comes with the territory and we should never underestimate the degree of treachery with which the state will pursue its objectives.  Neither NAN, nor Al Sharpton, deserves to have their rights violated in this way, and this incident should open the door for a broader investigation.

Jesse Jackson has it right that there should be a full fact-finding mission on this issue.  I argue that there should be a federal investigation.  If the NYPD or any of its leadership went outside the law in any way, heads should start rolling immediately.

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  17. i think police officers need more training and also be suspended for abuse of authority and internal affairs office with the inspector general offices needs to investagate with the attorney general office if law enforcement abuse authority or powers in any states or countries should be punished do not matter what orgin or color you are we should be getting alone with one another we need world peace other countries needs to help one another and people needs to stop all the voilence and racism and stop the blame game and especially tx. needs to tell other states to do the same.and congress need to stop blocking bills and start giving credit to president lets get rolling they call me all 48 start thinking cause i travel s go truckers

  18. They spied on Malcolm, Martin & everyother black leader before hiring an assassination, Al be careful! Brutal Police should get just what those cops on the video got! Now that’s Justice! Stand Up People! We got more power in numbers.

  19. I’m certain that Mr. Obama, will have the Attorney General get to the bottom of this (-:

  20. Americas chickens continue to come home to roost…

  21. This is a fine example of why most Black people in America don’t trust the police and never will ,because the police department has always worked against Black people as a whole criminal or not “I believe that this society isn’t a fairy tale and its ran by some rich white scary males.Consider this if Black people are truly the inferior’s then why do the so called superior’s always want to know or be inside their world.I believe that a real strong group of BLACK police officers should organize and deal with how their people are constantly treated and harassed by their white cohort’s.I guess one reason why this will not happen is because Black officer’s have always been used against their people to up hold white supremacy on the force and other word’s they often make the perfect NI–A’s!

  22. We don’t need the police to discredit Rev. Al Sharpton, for Dr. Watkins and Yvette Cornell do a better job in discrediting Rev. Sharpton. Did you read how hard they were on him the other day, trying to say that he didn’t have enough education to be advising the President . . . Malcolm X didn’t have much schooling or college education; however he’s a Black legend today. Malcolm X, like Rev. Sharpton, and so many great community leaders was self educated. So the NYPD is only a copy of Yvette and Dr. Watkins in the discrediting of the Reverent.

    • I have to agree with you on this one Oren, ever since Rev. Sharpton dared to defend Prof. Harris-Perry against Dr. Watkin’s dear friend, Cornel West rants and ravings he has launched attack after attack upon Rev. Sharpton. These so-called intellectual Negroes will take it very personal if they are not recognized and treated as such. It must really bother them that Rev. Sharpton a person they consider to be mentally inferior to them is hosting his own show on MSNBC and now Prof. Harris-Perry has her own as well, and the only weapon they have available to them in order to belittle Rev. Sharpton and Prof. Harris-Perry is a daily blog with a mediocre readship. No wonder blacks find it so difficult to get ahead sometimes, there are “crabs in the bucket” at every level and that’s ashame.

  23. What goes around comes around.

    Rev. Al Sharpton was an FBI Informant Attempting to have Assata Shakur Captured according to Veteran New York Black Nationalists.

    http://assata-shakur.blogspot.com/2010/07/rev-al-sharpton-was-fbi-informant.html#!/2010/07/rev-al-sharpton-was-fbi-informant.html

  24. This is hallarious, so Sharpton wants a privilege that most American don’t have. Look, everyone’s email, texts, internet searches and sites you visit is being read tracked and traced. Obama voted yes on the FISA BILL which made the “warantless wiretapping” LEGAL! Why isn’t Sharpton angry about that? We are still doing rendition kidnappings and torture. Several NEW black torture sites have been discovered recently, one being in NC. So this story is laughable. Yes Hoover was used to take down Marcus Garvey, Malcom King, The black panthers,etc. But make no mistake we are ALL being spied on! This incedent is to make Shartpon look like he’s against this. But its highly hypocritical to want to take legal action against NYPD but not against the FEDS. Hoover wasn’t acting on his own. He was a tool for the criminals that were controlling him. I’m sure it was fun for him though, becuase he hated black people. I can bet he hated himself even more, becuase he couldn’t be who wanted to be publically. Stop being so gullible black people. Al Sharpton isn’t going to address the ELEPHANT in the room like the NDAA. I guess he’s cool with the president being able to indefinitely detain American citizens as well as Target them for assassination!

  25. After reading the comments posted so far, I’m shocked that almost all of the posters were of the belief that COINTELPRO type operations had been terminated. I attended a few session at the NAN with the knowledge that my name and/or photo would mostly like be in a database kept by the authorities. We are fooling ourself if we believe the NYPD didn’t have the full blessing of the FBI, so don”t look for any action from Eric Holder’s DOJ.

    • Thank you I thought I was living in some alternate universe! Nothing has change it has only gotten worse. What i found distriubing was the fact Obama signed the bill negating our 4th amendment rights. Why are we worrying about spying. All that is needed is the statement terrorist threat! Boom your gone never to be seen again. Lets be real they shoot us with impunity. Look at the video of the Seattle cop just before he murders John T. Williams. Very scary!

  26. If you REALLY want to be disgusted, search for the video/doc that appeared on BET called ‘The Hip Hop Police.’ It’s probably that same unit that’s got Rev Sharpton in it’s sights.

    It’s not a low budget doc either. It’s executive producer was Quincy Jones. It was well made and shocking to see the files they had on rappers and up and coming rappers. They don’t have a Rock & Roll branch of the police, so how racist is it to have a ‘Hip Hop’ police unit?

    Granted, police have to do their job and these guys do wild out every now and again but even the rappers know about them, get followed around and discuss it freely on camera. Black people seem to have forgotten that they are GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION to have freedom of speech and association.

    They also have the right NOT to be spied upon without probably cause (oh, black/rapper IS probable cause!

    And another think…

    I was on facebook today and watched a video someone put together about police brutality.

    PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxlL0I5AWLI&feature=share

    America – land of the free you say?

    I’m so glad I moved to Africa. FREEfrom is so much better than freeDUMB.

  27. The United States has a history of spying on and harrassing people who object to their evil ways as mentioned in this article. From J. Edgar Hoover’s “Operation Chaos” to Richard Nixon’s “Watergate” scandal and beyond, it is almost as American as apple pie. Nothing to date has been done to eliminate this practice, and unfortunately a lawsuit will not eliminate this practice as a whole. It will take extremely strong political action to stop this, it will take getting rid of career politicians or chopping their salaries in half. It will take not only a broader investigation, but actual indictments of each and every NYC politician (to include the Mayor) and the NYPD leadership involved to send up a red flag across America that this will no longer be accepted.

  28. Ray Kelly better concentrate on his rapist son and leave Rev. Al alone. Those days I thought were over with. J. Edgar Hoover used to spy on Civil Rights organizations back in the day trying to discredit King and others, and he himself was a transvestite. I saw a documentary on 13 showing him dressed up as a woman and his long-time assistant was his lover. He had to be one of the ugliest faux woman you ever saw. Rev. Al is a super star and is doing an excellent job on his show “Politic Nation.” They have to come up with another slander to make it stick because being homosexual is not going to matter these days.

  29. I am not surprised about this revelation about the NYPD’s spying on NAN and in particularly, the Rev. Al Sharpton. It is the Modus Operandi of so-called law enforcement an other hate groups to infiltrate, manipulate, fabricate lies, propaganda and to sabotage black organizations and very Important Black leaders across this nation in the name of national security, when in fact is really a campaign to discredit and destroy.

    I hope that the Rev. Al and NAN will be careful and gather the facts, ascertain them and sue those responsible for breaking the law.

    The NYPD should not get away with such reprehensible and callous behavior. Let them pay!

  30. Rev. Sharpton should exercise the law to the fullest extent without any contemplation. These type of retro activities need to be immediately addressed head on. This is year 2012! We need to proceed from a position of strength. To even think of tolerating these injustices is an insult to our ancestors who struggled and died and it states our “true” advancement. We all need to call on the spirit of our ancestors to draw from their strength, courage, commitment and unity.

  31. yvette carnell,

    you might want to think twice before you write another article on the emerging irrevelance of rev al sharpton!

    how many law enforcement agencies are spying on you to destroy your reputation for fighting to help black people?

    NONE….

    • I find this Carnell women’s comments often to be quite problematic. I am so glad you asked the question you did of her; Al Sharpton can still bring black folk together when there is a need and he does it well.

  32. for the nypd to say they infiltrated sharptons organization but were not looking for dirt is like saying a member of the kkk infiltrated a meeting in which mlk was in attendance, but the kkk member was not looking to get the dirt on king or the civil rights movement.

    of course the nydp was trying to get dirt on sharpton. they wanted to embarrass him. and sharpton should sue the,

  33. They have money for that?

  34. Rev. Al should certainly SUE the NYPD AND demand that they incorporate the http://www.racismtest.org as well!
    For way too long people of color’ve had to rely on the SUPPOSED good will of those miseducated by a colorist education system which obdurately refuses to teach the truth about the common origin of huemanity: ALL huemans come from the originating Black Africans! Time to stop lying to the children!
    Carol Taylor R.N.
    First Black U.S.A. Flight Attendant

  35. These practices by Bloomberg, Kelly and the NYPD harken back to J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Congressional hearings and DOJ inquiries may be warranted to ensure we curtail and further attempts at police abuse or the creation of a police state. BTW, I was a cop for 32 years!

    • You are right Sir. I certainly hope that the full extent and resources of the the US DOJ is employed in this unfortunate case of abuse of power.

  36. In other words, the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover is raising its ugly head.