I'm going to begin this diary by saying that personally I agree with Al Sharpton on this protest for a lot of reasons. Yes, the prosecution screwed up the case. Yes, to me Al Sharpton is usually one who tends to rabble rouse for the attention of the cameras. But if this protest gets one single American to think about police brutality and the insantity of the criminal justice system for minorities, then it's all good. As long as it remains peaceful.
That being said......
Al Sharpton is planning a massive protest in NYC over the Sean Bell case where three police officers (two black, one white) shot at Sean Bell and his friends fifty times after they went to strip club to celebrate Sean's wedding the next morning. Sean was killed and his two friends were injured from the shooting.
"We strategically know how to stop the city so people stand still and realize that you do not have the right to shoot down unarmed, innocent civilians," Sharpton told an overflow crowd of several hundred people at his National Action Network office in the historically black Manhattan neighborhood. "This city is going to deal with the blood of Sean Bell."
Now how does this have anything to do with Obama?
It is quite simple. The media is going to ask him what he thinks of the protest and pretty much want him to Sister Soulja, Al Sharpton about the protest to prove that he is not a black radical. Black angry people protesting in one of the largest cities in America is going to set up an atmosphere where the media is going to set up gotcha questions for him. This pressure will not be applied to the other candidates.
This is a tight rope and Obama has to be careful how he answers. If he's silent, then he approves of what is going on and the media uses it to hurt him with white voters. If he supports the protest, same thing happens. However, his biggest danger lies in how his commentary plays in the black community.
The biggest myth is that black people support Obama because he's black. The thing is he had to prove himself just like any other candidate to blacks and that he had our interest at heart. That he could win but at the same time be accessable to us as well. The danger with this controversy is that if he fumbles on it, it could cost him votes in the black community and he could be seen as someone who uses political expedience instead of helping out the community when we feel that an injustice has been done.
Now he handled the Wright perfectly, and I'm sure that he has a reply waiting for this one that is nuanced but eases the tension on both sides. But it is going to be an extremely difficult task anyway you look at it and could probably not have come at a worse time campaign wise.
So he has to prove his mettle and not lose a step. He has to show that he respects law enforcement and the job they do while at the same time being sympathetic to the Bell family and the community. It'll be interesting to see how he response as this situation gets louder.