NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A hugfest between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton has been raising eyebrows.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the two men hugged on Monday as the mayor appeared with Sharpton at his National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. They addressed a group of supporters for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as Kramer noted, de Blasio drew comparisons between Sharpton and Dr. King himself.
The mayor spoke glowingly of Sharpton’s silent march down Fifth Avenue in the summer of 2012 to demand an end to the NYPD stop-and-frisk policy.
“That silent march down Fifth Avenue, on Fathers’ Day a few years ago, changed this city,” de Blasio said. “It changed the thinking, it changed the discourse, it changed the trajectory of this city.”
While a majority of New Yorkers responding to a recent Siena College poll said Sharpton has added to racial division in New York City, de Blasio went on to compare Sharpton to Dr. King, Kramer reported.
“It borrowed from a rich and powerful tradition – nonviolent, peaceful social change – the essence of what Dr. King was about,” de Blasio said. “And Reverend Sharpton helped to take that tradition, and make it come alive in that march.”
Pundits said de Blasio went to the National Action Network because it is part of his base of support. Still, experts warned that the relationship can cause problems.
“It won’t help with the police unions, certainly,” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “They don’t like Al Sharpton; never have. They see him as an enemy, and furthermore, they see him as a lawbreaker who owes millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.”
“Politically, it is unfortunate that he seems to want to keep being identified with Sharpton so explicitly, given Sharpton’s reputation out there,” added Doug Muzzio of Baruch College. “So the mayor is, in a sense, being truthful to himself, but that not be the wisest thing politically.”
Political experts pointed out that it is unlikely that Mayor de Blasio will sever ties with Sharpton – not only because Sharpton supporters are his supporters, but also because the mayor wants to stay true to his own core beliefs.