New York activist Al Sharpton blasts media portrayal as 'mob snitch'

NEW YORK Tue Apr 8, 2014 3:44pm EDT

1 of 13. Reverend Al Sharpton speaks during a news conference held to address local media reports regarding his relationship with the FBI during the 1980s in New York April 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said on Tuesday that he had cooperated with a 1980's federal probe into New York organized crime but lashed out at media reports labeling him a mob turncoat, saying he had never been a criminal.

Sharpton told reporters that the city's main tabloids, the Daily News and New York Post, were mistaken when they published cover stories that labeled him a "mob snitch" and "Rev Rat."

"I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats," Sharpton told reporters outside the Harlem headquarters of his group, the National Action Network. "I am a cat. I chase rats."

On Monday, The Smoking Gun website published documents that appeared to contain intelligence gathered by informants in an FBI sting into New York's Genovese crime family. The documents did not name the informants but the website said Sharpton was one.

Sharpton refused to say if he was one of the informants. He said he had cooperated with authorities three decades ago by trying to get suspected mobsters to repeat threats made against him over his campaign to help black concert promoters into the music industry.

"They were threatening to kill me," he said.

He said he recorded the conversations over a two-year period.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday.

Sharpton, who also hosts the "Politics Nation" show on MSNBC, said his 1996 book, "Go and Tell Pharaoh," described the threats and his cooperation with officials.

"In this situation, I did what was right," he said. "And I did what I tell kids everyday all over this country that they should do. And that is deal with getting guns and crime out of their community and cooperate with the law."

The headlines appeared just days before Sharpton's National Action Network holds a convention in New York that will feature New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Barack Obama as speakers.

"It's very interesting that many of us are condemned for not fighting crime, and now we're being condemned for fighting crime," Sharpton said.

(Reporting By Curtis Skinner; Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio)

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Comments (6)
mary1234 wrote:
Can anyone say Tawana Brawley- he never lies!!!

Apr 08, 2014 1:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
nglitz wrote:
Sure Al. We believe ya.

Apr 08, 2014 2:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gcf1965 wrote:
“Sharpton told Smoking Gun his cooperation with FBI agents was limited to efforts to prompt investigations of drug dealing in minority communities and the swindling of black artists in the recording industry.”

So, as we all know, he is not interested in justice per se, just in looking out for those of like skin tone. When is the nation going to wake up and start treating people equal. Imagine if a white guy publicly stated he was just out to help white communities and white artists avoid being taken advantage of. I am sick of the kid gloves that minorities, primarily blacks, get treated with.

Apr 08, 2014 2:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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