Reverend Al Sharpton has called for a ‘season of civil disobedience’ to protest decisions made by Donald Trump – especially the one to appoint Jeff Sessions attorney general.
Sharpton, 62, made his remarks during a conference call with other civil rights leaders and reporters ahead of a march in Washington this Saturday.
‘I think that clearly, one must always remember that civil disobedience not only shows the commitment, it changes policy,’ Sharpton said, according to PJ Media.
‘So we’re not just doing this to be doing it. We do it because it can lead to change and, believe me, there will be a season of civil disobedience – particularly around the Sessions nomination.’
He added: ‘To have Sen. Sessions as attorney general is a nightmare we cannot wake up from.’
During the call, the civil rights icon also referenced his jailing in 2001 for protesting the naval training base in Vieques, Puerto Rico. He was behind bars for 90 days as a result.
The US had withdrawn from the base by May 2003, which he identifies as proof the protest was a success.
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks also took aim at Sessions on the call, according to PJ Media.
‘Senator Sessions, over the course of many years, his support for voting rights has been a matter of vacillating between indifference and out-and-out hostility,’ Brooks said.
‘He has not acknowledged the reality of voter suppression while loudly in faith of voter ID laws predicated on the myth of voter fraud.’
Sessions’ detractors have said the 70-year-old Alabama Senator’s appointment raises ‘grave questions about his commitment to fair and even enforcement of the law’.
Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law added Sessions’ commitment to civil rights has ‘gaping holes’.
The anti-immigration Senator opposed the Senate’s 2013 overhaul of the issue as too permissive and has advocated broad presidential powers to curtail illegal immigration, by connecting lax border security to the terrorism threat.
He has opposed efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, has questioned whether terrorism suspects captured overseas deserve protections of the civilian justice system and as attorney general may endorse more aggressive scrutiny of Muslims.
He also opposed expanding the federal hate crime definition to include violence based on sexual identity or gender orientation.
He called the Voting Rights Act ‘intrusive’ legislation long before the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of it in 2013 and has repeatedly sounded alarms about the frequency of voter fraud, which current Justice Department leaders consider virtually nonexistent.
However, his supporters paint him as a Republican who grew up in the segregated Jim Crow South before forging a career as a local GOP leader, prosecutor and elected official, all while being an unyielding but fair-minded conservative.
Saturday’s march, organized by the National Action Network and to be attended by Sharpton, is designed to hold Trump’s White House accountable on decisions such as the Sessions pick.
‘We will rally and put the next Administration (and the nation) on notice that there are some things that will not be changed no matter who is president and what party dominates the House and Senate,’ a statement from the organizers reads.
‘Protecting the civil rights of citizens and the voting rights of people that have been excluded, providing health care for all Americans and equal opportunity should supersede any of the beltway partisan fights that we are inevitably headed into.
Some have given their lives and others dedicated their lives to try to make Dr. King’s dream a reality, and now they have added to that mission by preserving the legacy of President Obama.
Groups come and go, elections come and go, but some things must remain constant and non-negotiable.’
Sharpton also offered a teaser of what is to come at Saturday’s march, saying: ‘We intend to make this a critical stand in terms of where people are with civil rights and voting rights in this country.
‘Make them understand that if they think they are voting based on some courtesy of a Senate colleague and will not face a real backlash in their own states, then they have another thing coming.
‘This is not going to be some regular ceremonial procedure that they’re going to be able to bluff their way through.’