TO: AL SHARPTON
FROM: ALTON H. MADDOX, JR.
RE: JUSTICE FOR ERIC GARNER
DATE: AUGUST 11, 2014
This "Memorandum" is being written in the spirit of comity, civility, compassion and competency. It pertains to goals, timetable, strategy and tactics to be employed in seeking justice for Eric Garner who died from a chokehold employed by rogue members of a "standing army;" that is, the New York Police Department.
Media reports are being circulated implying that you have succumbed to the demands of Police Commissioner William Bratton of the New York Police Department that you ride over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, by bus, rather than march over it as an exercise of the First Amendment and in furtherance of free speech and the right to assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The last time I checked, Mr. Bratton was not "the government." This is supposed to be a "nation of laws" and not "a nation of men." The latter was applicable during slavery. New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams made a similar demand on me. My preference was a "civil death." I would rather be dead and in my grave than to be a "slave."
Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, in 1976, fathered the running of the New York City Marathon from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and through the five boroughs to Central Park. The bridge has been shutting down since 1976 to accommodate the marathon. New York City supports this inconvenience to all motorists without any objection from AAA or WABC-TV and ESPN which films it.
The plight of National Action Network, today, is akin to the plight of Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1965. Gov. George Wallace opposed the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to Montgomery, the state's capital. Although he had been agreeable to many of the demands of civil rights activists, U.S. District Court Judge Frank Johnson, nonetheless, had enjoined the march.
On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, in a televised address, asked Congress to pass a voting rights bill. He also asked Judge Johnson to lift the ban on the march. President Johnson would also federalize the National Guard to protect the marchers in their exercise of constitutional rights. The march started on March 21 and ended on March 25.
Police Commissioner William Bratton is not only ultimately responsible for the death of Eric Garner but he is now stopping you in your tracks in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This controversy should be ripe for "judicial review" and for injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. You should also ask President Barack Obama to retrace the steps of President Johnson.
After you consummate your planned march over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, I would respectfully suggest that your second march be from New York City to Albany. You will be repeating history. Under the New York State Constitution and Executive Law § 63, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has an obligation to intervene in the death of Mr. Garner. These same provisions of the law were invoked in Howard Beach and in Tawana Brawley.
Many activists lost confidence in Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. after it was discovered that he had also been seemingly conferring with Gov. George Wallace to prevent the march from Selma to Montgomery. Dr. King had been acting in good-faith under the circumstances. Wallace had issued an executive order to prevent the march.
Today, in many quarters, you have earned the reputation of having a reverse in your transmission when an influential or wealthy white man demand that you display a white flag. This is a defining moment. You should, hopefully, take the long march to the "Promised Land" seriously. When you lose your credibility, "Al Sharpton” will no longer exist in the mind or heart of any freedom-loving person. You will only be in charge of "slaves."
I personally believe that any struggle must start with an adherence to the teachings of our revered ancestors. See, for example, the National Convention of Colored Men in Buffalo, NY from August 19-22, 1843. Thus, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." See also the teachings of Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will."
President Obama, as commander-in-chief, will advise you that any struggle --pro or con-- must invariably invoke economic sanctions. This is a universal principle. No sane person would advocate financing one's own oppression. The alternative is violence. See the aftermath of a violent result following the state-sponsored, fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The FBI has immediately commenced an investigation.
Any testimony from Ramsey Orta, who video-taped the fatal encounter between members of the New York Police Department and Eric Garner, may be compromised or ruled inadmissible if he is still behind bars at the commencement of any grand jury proceeding. New York's judicial system is holding him hostage.
The satisfaction of the "ransom" should be of paramount concern to National Action Network or any human rights organization like United African Movement. The presence of "ransom" may also delay a grand jury investigation. See Article 190 of the Criminal Procedure Law. The United African Movement and the Freedom Party are seeking to raise the bail despite censorship including from your radio program on WLIB-AM locally.