Al Sharpton was in Ferguson, Missouri on Sunday standing alongside the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot and killed by a police officer last week. Speaking to a congregation at Greater St. Marks Family Church, Sharpton sought to draw a bizarre distinction between shoplifting and robbery.
On Friday, authorities confirmed Brown was a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store, which occurred just minutes before the shooting. Police released surveillance video allegedly showing Brown shoving a clerk before leaving the store with a $50 box of cigars.
According to authorities, however, the officer who shot Brown did not know he was a suspect. Instead, Brown and his friend were stopped “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”
Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and others have criticized the Ferguson Police Department for releasing the surveillance footage that appears to indict Brown. Sharpton used his speech on Sunday to offer further condemnation.
“I have never in all my years seen something as offensive and insulting as a police chief releasing a tape of a young man trying to smear him before we even have his funeral or his burial,” Sharpton said. “First of all, if this is the young man, y’all quit trying to exaggerate. That was shoplifting, not robbery… Robbery, you break in, stick something up. Shoplifting, you take some cigars. It’s wrong if he did it, but call it what it is.”
If you happen to be interested in the semantics, Breitbart reports there is actually very little difference between shoplifting and robbery under Missouri state law:
Shoplifting is punished as stealing in Missouri. Stealing consists of taking property that belongs to another person, without the person’s consent, or by means of deceit or coercion, and with the intention of depriving that person of the property… Shoplifters are subject to criminal penalties, including jail time and fines, as well as civil penalties.
On radio this morning, Stu offered his own distinction between the two that contrasts Sharpton’s reasoning. As Stu explained, the assault of the convenience store clerk – as seen in the surveillance video – supports the notion the incident was a robbery.
“I will say this. The difference, I would say, between shoplifting and robbing would be a physical altercation with a store employee,” Stu concluded. “And remember, once again, we were told that initially there was no reason [to] suspect Michael Brown. Then we were told that there was a robbery call, and he may have matched the description of the person who did the robbery. Now we learn [it was] one of the greatest descriptions of all time [because] it actually was him. It’s on tape occurring.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP