Reverend Al Sharpton, the national civil rights leader, radio and television host, and founder and president of the National Action Network (NAN), is emphatically disinterested in the nitty-gritty of local politics and says that his support for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is not unconditional.
Gotham Gazette sought comment from Sharpton on his relationship with de Blasio, a first-term Democrat who is running for reelection this year, and how he gauges the mayor’s leadership and record on police reform, a focus issue for the reverend. When de Blasio came into office in 2014, the two appeared especially close, but while de Blasio continues to make appearances at NAN, there has been evidence of distancing in recent years. Indeed, greater distance is something Sharpton reinforced in a Tuesday interview with Gotham Gazette.
In an energetic 16-minute phone conversation, as he took a break from recording his radio show, Sharpton explained his past support for the mayor and the current dynamic between the two, while also refuting analysis by political observers relayed to him by Gotham Gazette. Those observers, long-time chroniclers of city politics, said Sharpton and de Blasio’s relationship was one of mutual benefit, with Sharpton maintaining both access to the mayor and distance enough from which to criticize him. Meanwhile, Sharpton’s support for the mayor, multiple experts argued, provides cover for the mayor’s record on police reform, which many say has been less than satisfactory, while bolstering support in the African-American community. At the same time, the perceived daylight between the two allows de Blasio to maintain a better relationship with the NYPD, many members, union leaders, and supporters of which see Sharpton as an antagonist.
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Source: Gotham Gazette (via The Empire Report)