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Not in Brooklyn anymore: Rev. Al Sharpton gets shouted down at photo op along southern border

Media-savvy agitator appeared in Del Rio to decry "slave-like" Border Patrol methods at since-dispersed Haitian migrant encampment.

Updated: September 24, 2021 - 11:36pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook


Rev. Al Sharpton came to Texas on a sweltering day at the southern border — where he received a decidedly chilly reception. 

The venerable, media-savvy activist turned up on Thursday, to tour the conditions among the thousands of preponderantly Haitian migrants then massed under the Del Rio-Ciudad Acuna Bridge, before being scattered to largely undisclosed locations. There, against a parched and dusty backdrop on the frontera, Sharpton insinuated that the way in which the Haitians were being treated was racist — and blamed Trump supporters.  

"We went for an hour and toured the place that we feel is a real catastrophic and human disgrace as people around this world watch the Border Patrol use slave-like techniques — mounted on horses," said Sharpton, who wheeled up to his photo op in a black, full-size SUV with tinted windows. "It compelled us to come and show our voices and our presence.

"The Trump supporters and the right-wingers can scream all they want," said Sharpton — struggling to be heard above a cacophony of shouted gibes — but he and his entourage "intend to come back over and over again," he vowed. "For people to be treated like this in an inhumane way, for people to feel that they can use weaponization of horses to treat human beings ..."

Sharpton was referring to widely publicized photos of Border Patrol agents on horseback using reins to direct their horses away from Haitians who were pulling on their bridles to ensure that no one was injured. Many in the media referred to the reins as a whip.

While many in the Democratic Party venerate Sharpton as a civil rights leader, critics argue he has largely ignored the instrumental role Jewish Americans played in the 1960s civil rights movement. Many still describe Sharpton as an anti-Semite who incited violence 30 years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Just The News reached out to Sharpton's National Action Network for response to claims that he is antisemitic and other issues, and received no response.

This August, marked the 30th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots, which ensued after a young black boy was killed in a car accident. Mostly Caribbean blacks looted and burned, attacked Jews, and shouted, "Kill the Jew," which led to the murder of a Jewish Australian man who was studying in New York City at the time. Riot police were called in, and Sharpton led a group of protestors shouting for days, "No justice, no peace!" launching him to national notoriety. 

In Del Rio, however, Sharpton was barely audible because for three straight minutes, men in the crowd shouted questions making it impossible for him to continue. Retired Border Patrol agent and Rabbi of Baruch Hashem Assembly Manny Rodriguez filmed the event, capturing the storm of shouted rebukes that rained down on Sharpton, including:

"Why are you not speaking up for the children that have gone missing?"

"Why are you sowing racism where it doesn't exist?"

"Why aren't you standing up for Border Patrol and protecting the American people?" 

"Del Rio is a loving, caring community. We don't want your racism in Texas. Get out of here! Nobody wants to hear your racist nonsense in Del Rio." 

"You're a disgrace!" 

"You're a racist!" 

Sharpton stood still, turning his head from left to right as each question was asked. He said nothing in response, and then slowly returned to his SUV. He left without engaging with the crowd. 

"Al Sharpton is making a racial issue out of something that doesn't exist," Rodriguez told Just The News. "The majority of people here don't think this is a racial issue." What residents — including many Mexican-Americans — do care about, he said, "is illegal immigration and protecting children. It's not just about Haitians."

Del Rio, a small border town, has delt with illegal immigration for years, but recently found itself the focus of international attention for the nearly 15,000 Haitians that converged there in the last week, creating an undercurrent of fear and uneasiness throughout the community. 

Rodriguez, a former Border Patrol agent of 25 years, said he's had to deal with racial issues for most of his life. An American citizen, he's been criticized by Mexicans for betraying "his people" by enforcing immigration law, he said.  "His people," he told Just The News, "are Americans." 

Rodriguez is also of Sephardic Jewish descent and claims to have traced his genetic line to the Kohen gene. The gene is the only one traceable to one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the Levites. Rodriguez, a rabbi, is continuing in the priestly vocation of his tribal ancestors thousands of years later.

"When Sharpton was talking about showing solidarity 'for his people,' who was he talking about?" Rodriguez asked. "Americans aren't his people?"

He added that trained border patrol agents learn how to work with horses and what the border patrol agent did was for everyone's safety. 

"He was doing his job," he said. "There was no whip. The horse could have run over the Haitian. The agent wasn't abusing anyone."

What Sharpton and the media should instead be focusing on, he said, is how many criminals were being let in through the border and how many of the illegal immigrants being released into the community at large have COVID, HIV, and tuberculosis, potentially creating a public health crisis.

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