Lid Blog: It was his second anti-Semitic pogrom in four years. On December 8, 1995, Al Sharpton incited the violent fire-bombing of the Jewish-owned Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, causing the deaths of Angelina Marrero, Cynthia Martinez, Luz Ramos, Mayra Rentas, Olga Garcia, Garnette Ramautar, and Kareem Brunner – the seven victims of the massacre. There was an eighth death, Roland James Smith, started the fire that burned down the store. Sharpton didn’t toss the firebomb, but the anti-Semitic and racial bias which came out of his mouth and out of the mouths of others while in his presence, produced the massacre as assuredly as if the fire was set with his hands. Smith’s mistake was listening to and believing Sharpton’s hatred.
Smith had been part of a group of picketers, led by Al Sharpton , head of the National Action Network and Morris Powell , leader of the 125th Street Vendor’s Association, who had been protesting the eviction of Sikhulu Shange, owner of the Record Shack who was subletting from Fred Harari, the Jewish owner of Freddy’s.
It all started as a rent dispute in the summer of 1995:
The United House of Prayer, a large African-American church, was also a major landlord in Harlem. They raised the rent on Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned clothing store which had operated from the same Harlem location for over 40 years. In turn, Freddy’s had to raise the rent on its sub-tenant, a black-owned record store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensued. As he has done so often in his life, Al Sharpton turned this non-racial economic dispute into a racial conflict.