Sharpton Back from Jail

photography by Danya Steele

Rested and recharged, an energetic Rev. Dr. Al Sharpton was back home at the House of Justice, the headquarters and home of his National Action Network, after spending 86 days of a 90 day sentence in a federal prison for protesting the Navy’s bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. 

In his hour-long address, Sharpton all but declared his intentions to run for President in 2004, hinting campaign reforms and attacking the military industry complex as major issues in need of public and political attention. He also seemed to be on the verge of endorsing Fernando Ferrer for NYC mayor in Ferrer’s race for the Democratic nomination in September. However, he said he would not decide definitely on his political endorsement for another week. 

“I stand by those who stand by me,” said Sharpton to a packed house that included Cornell West, Fernando Ferrer, Adam Clayton Powell III and the parents of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond, both of whose sons were shot down by New York City Police officers. Stephanie Mills introduced Sharpton’s address with a rousing rendition of her signature hit, “Home.” 

Sharpton’s 90 day sentence was reduced slightly, three days off for good behavior and an additional day off for the day that Sharpton was arrested. 

Sharpton was finally released on Friday, August 17, 2001. He spent his first two days stretching his legs, immediately getting back into the swing of things. He began Friday morning by marching from the exit doors of the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn to 45th Street and Third Avenue, where a pregnant woman, her sister, and 4-year-old son were murdered on August 4th by an off-duty police officer, Joseph Gray, who police say was driving while intoxicated. 

On Saturday he walked through the streets of Harlem after addressing a warm and adoring crowd at the N.A.N., before a day-long agenda, which concluding in an informal appearance at the renowned Cotton Club in Harlem, NYC. Reverend Al Sharpton’s passion is far from extinguished–if anything, it’s replenished while he roars, “You can lock me up, but you’ll NEVER lock me down!!!”.

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