NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After initially accepting a controversial offer by Rabbi Marc Schneier to speak at a panel on the state of black-Jewish relations in America, Rev. Al Sharpton has decided that he will not appear at the event, which was to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots.

“Over the last twenty-hours I have been made aware of local detractors of yours and mine that want to engage in the business of division and distortion,” Sharpton said in a letter to Schneier.

Sharpton had been invited by Schneier to speak at the Hamptons Synagogue in West Hampton this Sunday. However, late Thursday, Schneier told CBS 2’s Lou Young that the forum will be postponed.

The decision by Sharpton comes following strong and vocal criticism from the family of one of the Crown Heights riots’ victims.

Sharpton was in the streets in 1991, leading protest rallies in the unrest that followed the accidental death of a young black boy, Gavin Cato, under the wheels of a Hasidic motorcade and the subsequent murder of Australian rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum at the hands of a black teen.

The family of Rosenbaum, however, was incensed that Sharpton was invited to the forum because they believe he helped escalate the violence with some of his comments during the unrest.

“Rabbi Marc Schneier should take a damn-good, hard look at the videos of the riots over the three-day period. Look at the media reports and he’ll see there clearly the role Al Sharpton played,” Norman Rosenbaum, the victim’s brother, said Wednesday.

“I have made mistakes in my career, but the allegations around Crown Heights, which is proven to be patently untrue, was not one of them and I seek to continue to grow,” Sharpton’s statement read.

Sharpton said that it was out of “respect” to Norman Rosenbaum and the “pain he must feel” that he decided to not appear at the forum, adding “even though in my opinion he has been exploited and mislead about me.”

“Since the event has now been distorted and would cause pain to him, I, out of respect to his request, have decided to decline to participate,” the letter said.

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Comments (26)
  1. Joseph desrosiers says:

    I am very concerned as a citizen of The United States of America that someone from Autralia will have such a power to hold a grudge aginst another race .Rosenbaum needs to get a life ,what happen in 1991 was a tragedy .For years I live at Crown Heights and the jewish people stick with their own kind , very rarely they will stop and talk with own neighbor unless they want to buy them out of their houses.This America with two societies side by side . there are many good Jewish people around and I do respect them ,but Rosenbaum make me sick.He should go back to Australia and face up with the aborigin.Reverend Al has done a good job ,he is not perfect he had made some mistakes only God is perfect that is why we are call human being .

    1. jaen says:

      Does Sean Bell’s baby mama make you sick too? How about Emitt Tills whiny relatives?

      1. Devenio says:

        Neither Sean Bell’s baby mama or Emitt Tills relatives ran down a little boy in the street.

    2. George Lurye says:

      1. You clearly need to get educated or re-educated. You simply can’t write on public boards and not make a fool of yourself. Your spelling and grammar are indicative of a third grader at best.
      2. Holding a grudge against an organizer of violence that lead to the death of your son is understandable.
      3. Holding a grudge against a person is not the same as holding a grudge against a race of people.

    3. ari says:

      hello i live here to in my class of 25 more then 12 have been mugged i am 25 years old, you happen to say we dont speak to you, will you speak to people who rob you?

    4. HTK says:

      Are you f*cking stupid or something? I have an idea. Let’s hole a grudge against blacks for every f*ckign thing they do? Huh???

  2. Prescription Drugs says:

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  3. joe says:

    unfortunately, some people don’t improve with age. Sharpton was always a larcenous. self-aggrandizing, Jew hating racist activist. he hasn’t changed, just tries to be more subtle and slick.

  4. Reverend Rev says:

    So now Sharpton gets to profit TWICE form the Crown Heights incident. Nice!

    1. Reverend Rev says:

      Sharpton’s rallying cry of “No Justice, No Peace” is NOT a complaint but a GOAL. As soon as true justice and peace exist, Sharpton loses his only source of income.

  5. J.J. says:

    Al Sharpton is a professional agitator.

    1. sojurnerTRUTH says:

      in the words of Frederick Douglas “agitate, agitate, agtate….not such a bad word depending on who you are. Know your “his”tory or at least ge updated about “my” history ;*)

  6. constance shames, m.d. says:

    Al sharpton loves to be the center of any publicity. I have just written a book on the 2oth Anniversary of the Crown Heights riots which investigates some of the causes. He should read it “Death of a Scholar”. He might learn soemthing about racial relations. His comments only foster ongoing division among blacks and whites. Shame on him. constance shames, m.d.

    1. Vernita says:

      How about a book called Death of a African American baby because the ambulance choose to pick up the Jewish driver who had no injuries instead of the baby who laid on those street until he died? Isn’t this what started this whole thing? Sounds like a good book to me. Why does it seem as if most of you who have made these comments here seem to forget that this baby died first and what happened after lead to this riot, not Sharpton. So you all are the only ones who are supposed to be upset about what happened on that day? Remember two humans died on that day. Yes, the African American child was a human also.

      1. George Lurye says:

        1. He clearly wasn’t a baby.
        2. A car accident that led to a death, no matter how tragic, is no excuse for murder or violent riots. Only monkeys behave in such ways.

      2. me says:

        fream why call him a baby a young boy will be fine and plus what the hell the people there where trying to lynch to ambulance crew, they did not want their help.

  7. Capt. Smokey says:

    Been a very long time since he was Holy.
    He is worried about losing his msnbc gig or else he
    would have been at this forum ,that’s showbiz!

  8. steffi says:

    About time Sharpton did the right thing.

  9. The Facts says:

    The anti-Jewish violence was not “sparked” by the Rosenbaum murder which was commited toward the end of the riot.

  10. Just sayin' says:

    His hair is so relaxed, it’s like a vacation on his head!

  11. Old Man says:

    AL Sharpton is OBVIOUSLY one of the MOST PREJUDICIAL and “Pot Stirrers” I have ever seen in my life! Just pay the LEAST BIT of attention and he gives himself away! Besides—the Blacks keep WHINING over nothing! Give US A BREAK ALREADY!! They are “fluffed up” and made excuses for more than ANYONE ELSE and it is sickening!

    1. Nita says:

      @ Old Man. Oh so I guess the death of this child Gavin Cato on this day is what you would call black people whining over nothing? Oh yea what happened to the man that struck and killed this child. Not a damn thing. He was not even hurt but yet when the ambulance came it only picked up the driver and left that baby there to wait for another ambulance. Please explain that to the whining black people as you so call us. You would understood all the whining if it had happened the other way around. Whining Black People? Shut the hell up Old Ass Man.

      1. George Lurye says:

        1. The accident was ruled to be an accident by the NYPD, not some Jewish mafia. The driver had no history of bad driving and wasn’t under influence of drugs or alcohol. Accidents are tragic, but they do happen occasionally.
        2. Ambulances can only take one trauma patient each at a time. The ambulance that showed up first was a private Jewish volunteer ambulance which charges patients for their transport and aid. They were not and are not part of the NYC 911 system and are not required to aid EVERYONE on scene. This was a two ambulance call and the NYC EMS ambulance treated the second victim. Meanwhile, the EMT’s of Hatzolah didn’t ignore the boy. They gave him basic aid until the second ambulance arrived.

      2. Nita says:

        @George Lurye Question would you be Oh so accepting of this situation, if that was your child laying on the ground dying? An a ambulance came along but would not take your child to the hospital just because he was not of a certain race? Also this child was dying so what do you think the private Jewish volunteers basic aid was going to do? Also it was not the accident that started the riot it was what happened after this Private Jewish volunteer ambulance did what they did. Since the child died and Hatzolah walk into the ambulance I only see one trauma patient and that was this child. Not trying to be a racist but I know you can see where I am coming from. Your telling me that this child had to wait for a second ambulance just because he was not Jewish and that’s acceptable to all of you here?

  12. get real says:

    oh PULEEEEEEZE!! He’s a jew hater, and violence instagator, and we all know it!

  13. jane says:

    When will people stop referring to the hate crimes blacks perpetrated on Jews and Asians differnently then the hate crimes whites perpetrated on blacks? There is no difference. Apparently every black perpetrated hate crime has an excuse but no hate crimes towards black folks do. Sick of it

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