The Rev. Al Sharpton and company want to compare the demonstrations that occurred last week to the historic acts of civil disobedience that took place during the civil rights movement. But there is a fundamental distinction to be made.
Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement leaders protested for the right to sit at a lunch counter, ride in the front of a bus, attend a white-only school and register to vote. They confronted institutional racism, evil and ignorance, often risking their lives.
But southeast Queens is not Selma or Birmingham. The justification for last week's protest is not so clear. The trial of the three police officers was fair no matter how one views the outcome. The Queens district attorney was aggressive in its prosecution and we have not heard one legal expert challenge the judge's fairness.
Likewise, it is unethical to use civil disobedience to demand that federal charges be brought against the officers. This decision should be made solely on the facts and not on Sharpton's ability to disrupt traffic.
To be sure, the NYPD has a problem in the black community. The demonstrations did nothing to improve that relationship.
©2008 Community News Group
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