Nikole Hannah-Jones slams Al Sharpton for calling out rampant crime: ‘There’s always been thefts’

You know it’s a weird day when you find yourself agreeing with Al Sharpton, but that’s exactly what happened when Nikole Hannah-Jones responded to the Reverend’s tweet about a theft at Trader Joe’s and the petty crime that is plaguing New York.

“An alleged shoplifter has been caught on tape appearing to steal 10 steaks from NYC Trader Joe’s,” Sharpton tweeted. “I joined MSNBC to speak on the need for public safety and to address criminal justice concerns.”

In the clip, Sharpton is asked by host Joe Scarborough if NYC Mayor Eric Adams will be able to do anything about the rise in petty crimes, “while he’s obviously surrounded by elected officials who want New York to remain chaotic.”

“Well, I think he’s got a challenge there, because there is a debate in the criminal justice system, and there are those that are concerned, including me, about overloading the system and the jails with petty crimes,” Sharpton replied. “But, at the same time, you cannot have a culture where people are just, at random, just robbing and stealing and is out of control and is put on the front pages of newspapers, which only encourages others to do it.”

Seems like a reasonable response, right?

Not if you’re the founder of the 1619 Project.

“This drumbeat for continued mass incarceration is really horrific to watch,” tweeted Hannah-Jones. “A person stealing steaks is not national news, and there have always been thefts from stores. This is how you legitimize the carceral state.”

Hannah-Jones doesn’t bother to offer any solutions to the problem, implying that “let them eat steak” is a better strategy than actually doing something to stop the thefts.

Neither does she seem bothered by NYC’s citywide crime statistics, which, according to the NYPD, showed that overall crime in the Big Apple was up 38.5% in January compared to January 2021.

Instead, the political activist spoke of bad drumbeats — a subject about which she has plenty to say.

Last week, Hannah-Jones tweeted, “Why do journalists insist on asking about defund police in communities where police budgets have not been cut? And why do they regurgitate bail [reform] talking points without checking the veracity?”

“We are falling into the same old traps, aiding in drumbeat for more incarceration,” she said.

“This was the logical pushback to the protests of 2019, with calls to reform policing and more accurately assess our history and society — a push for tough on crime policies and anti=-history laws,” she added. “The media should not be playing a part here.”

For her reply to Al Sharpton, Hannah-Jones got her own dose of pushback, as many wondered how she’d feel if it were her home or business being robbed.

At an event for the Association for a Better New York, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg spoke about the Trader Joe’s incident.

“We have amongst us opportunists, who are repeat players, who are just taking goods,” Bragg said. “So we are brainstorming about how to respond to that as well. … Thinking about things and people who are really going from store to store and just taking.”

Bragg also commented on the newspaper reports both Sharpton and Hannah-Jones referred to, saying: “I think we’ve all had the experience of picking up the paper and reading ab out someone having done some horrific act and then reading and seeing that it was their eighth interaction [with the criminal justice system].”

Melissa Fine


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