There are all kinds of activists.
There are the limo activists who swoop into a community when cameras are rolling.
There are the boardroom activists who cut deals behind closed doors.
Then there’s the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sharpton is the street activist who has sway over the brothers on the corner.
His brand of activism, however, is about to be tested.
An expose by “The Smoking Gun” claims that during the 1980s, Sharpton was an informant for the FBI and that conversations he secretly recorded helped bring down members of the Genovese crime family, according to the website.
Allegedly, Sharpton “flipped” for the FBI when he was caught on tape in a drug sting, according to the website.
Sharpton, an ordained minister and political activist, has denied the “drug sting” accusation but defended his work for the FBI.
Sharpton said he cooperated with the FBI because mobsters had threatened his life over his activism in the music industry.
“In my own mind, I was not an informant,” Sharpton said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“I was cooperating with investigations.”
Sharpton argued that he was never a “rat.”
“Rats are usually people that were with other rats. I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn’t with the rats. I’m a cat. I chased rats,” he said.
Known as “Confidential Informant No. 7,” Sharpton allegedly used a bugged briefcase to record conversations with mobsters, some of whom ended up serving time.
The revelation that Sharpton once worked as an informant isn’t likely to go over well on the streets where many young men already think black leaders have sold black people out.
Frankly, the FBI is probably the most hated law enforcement group in the black community.
During the civil rights movement, the FBI spied on leading civil rights figures, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and used informants to infiltrate civil rights groups and sow dissent among activists.
But now that Sharpton has admitted breaking the No. 1 street code, he should lead the campaign in the black community to erase the stigma attached to cooperating with police.
If Sharpton, who was just an upcoming activist back then, could work with the FBI to try to help bring down organized crime figures, there’s no excuse for people hiding behind the “no snitch” code.
Chicagoans like Pamela Montgomery-Bosley deserve better.
Eight years ago, Montgomery-Bosley’s son, Terrell Bosley, was gunned down in the parking lot of the Lights of Zion church on the Far South Side.
A suspect was arrested and prosecuted but was found not guilty at trial.
However, Montgomery-Bosley feels the case was “rushed,” and she is organizing other parents whose children were murdered to put pressure on police to solve these cases.
“Detectives spent more time trying to find out about Terrell’s character, trying to find something wrong, than they did trying to find the killer,” she said.
Of the 415 homicides in 2013, only 126 were solved in that same year. Another 106 murders committed in prior years were also solved in 2013.
Adam Collins, director of the Chicago Police Department’s News Affairs, said the department had an increase in the number of murders that were solved last year due in part to “better partnerships with the communities.”
“One of the most important things we do is to bring closure to victims’ families,” Collins said.
Montgomery-Bosley also believes “people aren’t speaking up.”
“When they do, police don’t handle it properly,” she said.
Yet, as the Sharpton outing shows, police need informants to get the bad guys off the street.
Instead of insisting he isn’t a “rat,” Sharpton should wear the label with pride and encourage the brothers to make that call.
After all, where’s the shame in putting murderers behind bars?