Sharpton Holds Chicago 'Town Hall' on Gun Violence, 'Tea Party' Rhetoric Breaks Out; Local Media Mum

Attempting to build his national profile, Al Sharpton "took up residence on the West Side (of Chicago) in November and began hosting ... (weekly) town halls as part of an effort to find solutions to the city’s outsize homicide rate among young black males."

Rebel Pundit at Breitbart News reports that a Thursday meeting in the city's Hyde Park area not far from President Obama's Chicago home didn't exactly turn out the way Sharpton would have liked. There was even talk of having "Tea Party" meetings "like Republicans do." Sharpton doesn't need to worry too much, though, because Chicago's establishment press has ignored what happened. Shamefully, so have a couple of smaller publications which apparently prefer bland misdirection over substantive reporting. Excerpts from the Breitbart report follow the jump (bolds are mine):


AL SHARPTON'S CHICAGO TOWN HALL ERUPTS INTO REVOLT AGAINST MACHINE POLITICS

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On Thursday, a town hall meeting hosted by Al Sharpton and the National Action Network to address gun violence exploded into a revolt against “Chicago Machine” politics, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the aldermen in City Hall, with panel and audience members calling to vote out their elected officials.

One 82-year-old preacher even called for “Tea Party” style meetings in some of Chicago’s south side communities such as Altgeld Gardens and Trumbull Park.

While the stated goal for Sharpton was to bring the many different groups together to discuss solutions to the city’s violence epidemic, he may not have gotten the types of responses he was looking for. Calls for more gun control laws and getting guns off the streets were nonexistent and not mentioned by residents throughout the session.

Instead, attendees offered solutions addressing the problems facing their community as a whole rather than just taking on “gun violence” itself. Audience members addressed the need for jobs and solving the foreclosure crisis plaguing Chicago’s south and west sides. Perhaps the loudest message—and one that Reverend Al or the Chicago media have yet to report on—echoed by several different people in attendance as well as panel members was that it is time for the black community to start voting differently.

“The manner in which we have been voting needs to change,” Wendy Pearson, an activist against Chicago school closings, told the room. “I’m here to say to you that we have been trained to vote in a specific manner… we need to start looking at the manner in which our elected officials have been voting… if they have not voted in a manner that is beneficial to you, yours, and your community, then you need to start voting them out.”

(Paul) McKinley (of V.O.T.E., or Voices of the Ex-Offender, also a "former 2nd Congressional District GOP nominee") told the room, “Stop blaming just anybody for the violence in the city of Chicago. Blame the right people, not just white people, but the right people. Because it’s not just white folks a part of this, but it is on the fifth floor. The fifth floor took your schools, the fifth floor just took your jobs that he said that he gave to the ex-offender… and every single alderman was a part of this criminal process.”

Here are a very few choice excerpts out of at least a dozen I could have used from the video at Breitbart:

  • "We don't have a gangs, guns (and) drugs problem. We have a nepotism, cronyism and patronage problem."
  • "I would call a serious town meeting, like the town meetings Republicans would call ... they call it a Tea Party.
  • "we have been trained to vote in a specific manner… we need to start looking at the manner in which our elected officials have been voting… if they have not voted in a manner that is beneficial to you, yours, and your community, then you need to start voting them out."
  • "This (meeting) was a signal sent to City Hall, to the fifth floor (this is apparently Chicagoans' term for the Mayor's office and the "powers that be" in City Hall — Ed.), who sent no one down here to make sure that the city he (p)resides over." (The apparent reference is to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.)
  • "We're asking the President of the United States: Let us, the grass roots people, not these name-brand blue-ribbon Negroes ... (to) stop giving these evil people our money."

There is no mention of the substance of the arguments brought forth in coverage at the Root, which claims to be "the premier news, opinion and culture site for African-American influencers." I guess that would be only the influencers who toe the line. The Root's Lynette Holloway lamely reported that meeting attendees "repeatedly offered up employment as a solution."

It was the same story over at DNAinfo Chicago, which describes itself as "Chicago's leading neighborhood news source." Wendell Hutson also went with the "more jobs" line, and completely ignored the passionate statements about voting and corruption.

As to the city's larger papers, the Tribune from all appearances had nothing on the meeting (the results can't be sorted by date, but there was nothing in the first three pages of results), and the Sun-Times had nothing on Sharpton at all.

It seems that if grass-roots Chicagoans want to regain control of their city, they're going to have to do it over the benign neglect of the entire Chicago press establishment — a neglect that will quickly turn into hostility if it begins to look like they're gaining ground.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.