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Entries in Al Sharpton (3)

Friday
Jan112013

Tyler Perry, Al Sharpton, NAACP Offer $100K Reward in Florida Missing Persons Cases

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(NAPLES, Fla.) -- What happened to Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos nearly a decade ago? For years, there have been whispers in Naples, Fla., about the men and the last person they were seen with, a police officer who said he dropped off the two men at separate convenience stores.

On Thursday, movie mogul Tyler Perry, the Rev. Al Sharpton and NAACP president Ben Jealous announced as much as $100,000 in rewards for information on the cases.

"This is injustice," said Perry, who throughout a news conference in Naples clutched the hand of Williams' mother.

"I don't think this is about race or social status as much as it is about, no matter who we are, we should be outraged that this is happening in America in 2013," he added, according to video recordings of the event.

Seconds after Perry offered his reward, a man in the audience interrupted, approaching the podium to claim he had information pertinent to the case and feared for his life, according to video of the event.

"Be here for my safety," said the man, sobbing.

Perry said local law enforcement assured him that it will do everything possible to protect people who speak out, adding, "The world is watching."

 

"Just like this man has come forward. I am sure there are others," Sharpton told the crowd of about 150 people.

Later, Collier County authorities spoke with the man to determine if he had any relevant information.

Santos, 23 at the time of his disappearance in October 2003, vanished following a road incident, where Santos was arrested for driving without proper documentation, Naples Daily News reports.

According to the newspaper, Cpl. Steven Calkins of Collier County Sheriff's Office wrote in a memo that he had dropped Santos off at a nearby convenience store instead of making the arrest.

Three months later, Williams, then 27, who had recently moved from Tennessee to Florida, pulled his vehicle over after experiencing car trouble, the Naples Daily News reported. He was spotted by Calkins near a North Naples cemetery.

Calkins later told investigators that he took Williams to a nearby convenience store, where he let him off and never saw him again, the newspaper reports.

Calkins, a 17-year law enforcement veteran, was questioned and fired in 2004 after failing a polygraph test and giving inconsistent statements about his encounter with Williams, according to the Naples Daily News. His patrol car was tested for blood and signs of struggle, but nothing was found.

On Thursday, the Collier County Sheriff's Office said it had not spoken to Calkins since he was fired.

ABC News' attempts to reach Calkins by phone were unsuccessful.

In 2006, Calkins denied wrongdoing and called it "very bad luck" that he was the last person seen with the missing men, according to the Naples Daily News.

Perry's $100,000 in rewards broke down into four separate $25,000 offers, according to a news release by the Collier County Sheriff's Office. The four $25,000 rewards were for information leading to the locations of either Santos or Williams, or convictions in either case.

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said he was pleased to have Perry raising awareness of the cases.

"We need the right piece of new information," Rambosk said in a news release. "We are hopeful that Tyler Perry's involvement will not only keep Terrance and Felipe in the public eye, but also prompt someone to step forward with the information we need.

"We are asking anyone who may have information to please contact us," he added. "Every tip, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is important."

"The only way to turn a cold case into a live case is turn up the heat," said Jealous. "The NAACP has not forgotten about Mr. Williams, Mr. Santos and this deputy who remains of interest."

Sharpton said Perry sparked his interest when he called him to question why civil rights leaders weren't dealing with missing-persons cases. In 2011, nearly 680,000 people were reported missing by the National Crime Information Center, and 34 percent were African American although the group makes up only 13 percent of the population.

"This kind of issue requires all of us black, white, Latino, Asian, rich and poor to come together," said Sharpton of the now-multi-agency investigation into the men's disappearances.

The FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida State Attorney's Office also were involved in the investigation, the sheriff's office said.

"I'll never give up," said Marcia Roberts, Williams' mother, who held the hands of Perry often throughout the news conference and called Perry a godsend.

"Terrance has four children," she said. "I have to have answers. I demand to have answers."

After nine years, she hoped the renewed interest helps thaw her son's cold case.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar262012

Trayvon Martin Case: Sharpton Vows to 'Occupy' Sanford Over Easter

ERIK S. LESSER/AFP/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Rev. Al Sharpton will camp out with protesters in front of City Hall in Sanford, Fla., over Easter weekend as part of a nationwide call for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watch captain who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February, he told ABC News.

“We’re going to have a full blown occupation of Sanford with tents and everything over Easter weekend until [authorities] either arrest George Zimmerman, or arrest us for praying for his arrest,” Sharpton said.

The civil rights leader and MSNBC talk show host said he’d be urging supporters of the cause across the country to wear “hoodies instead of Easter outfits to church on Easter Sunday.”  Sharpton said he will camp out “from Good Friday through Easter Sunday.”

The Easter weekend occupation is part of a wave of civil disobedience that Sharpton and other leaders are organizing to pressure authorities to arrest Zimmerman. Craig Sonner, an attorney advising Zimmerman, has said that he is in hiding, but has been in contact with police.

Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, will join Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, pro football players Ray Lewis and Santonio Holmes and others at a rally in front of Sanford City Hall on Monday prior to a Sanford city commission meeting. Thousands are expected to turn out. Sanford’s police chief stepped down temporarily last week following a 3-2 vote of no confidence from the commission.

A series of rallies in support of the Martin family’s cause is scheduled Monday in major U.S. cities including Detroit, Iowa City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Washington, D.C, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Eatonville, Fla. Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied around the country in recent days as the controversy has grown.

The Sanford Police Department declined to press charges against Zimmerman after their initial investigation, saying there was not sufficient evidence to challenge Zimmerman’s claim that he was attacked by Martin and acted in self-defense. Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” gun laws allow for the use of deadly force is a person believes their lives are in imminent danger.

A special prosecutor is investigating the case, and a grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence in the case on April 10.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May072011

Osama Bin Laden's Anti-U.S. Strategy: Exploit Minority Converts

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden aspired to damage the United States not only through persistent terror attacks, but also by attempting to inflame race and class tensions in hopes of tearing down the country from the inside out, according to officials briefed on the evidence trove recovered from the al Qaeda leader's Pakistan compound.

According to information recovered in the U.S. Navy SEAL raid that brought down the terror leader, bin Laden planned to specifically recruit African-American Muslim converts to carry out attacks on the homeland. The goal was to not only kill and maim in the actual operations, but to create a divisiveness that would cause more damage than al Qaeda could ever hope to do on their own.

"Because there were many blacks in the U.S., he wanted to capitalize on them to further the jihadi cause," one U.S. official told ABC News. "Al Qaeda sees the black convert community as ripe for recruiting."

While it has long been known that radical preachers and some prison imams have targeted the convert community for jihad recruitment, the references show core al Qaeda's keen interest in the tactic.

"This is pretty heady stuff," another person briefed on the material said.

But it's also strategy that civil rights activist and President of the National Action Network Rev. Al Sharpton said was "radical" and outrageous.

"I think it would be the most cynical abuse of African-Americans and America in general," Sharpton told ABC News. "Remember, Osama bin Laden killed blacks, whites, Latinos, everyone on 9/11... For him to use race relations in the U.S. in a way to support his terroristic barbarism is the absolute height of cynicism."

Minority groups have previously suffered in the aftermath of terror attacks or attempted attacks, though most of those incidents have been directed at Muslim-Americans. Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said those incidents are not indicative of the American people and any belief by bin Laden that he could prompt widespread violence in such a way between any groups was a "fantasy."

"I think the viewpoint reflects more of a Neo-Nazi, white supremacist outlook on American whites than anything based in reality," he said. "I think it's fantasy based on a fundamental misunderstanding of American society."

In the past, officials believed al Qaeda attempted to recruit fair-skinned European or Americans jihadis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio