Rev. Al Sharpton Demonstrates at Office of Hedge Fund Manager Who Targeted Claudine Gay

He accused Bill Ackman of racism and says the National Action Network will picket his office weekly.

Rev. Al Sharpton led a protest outside of billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman’s New York City Office on Thursday (Jan. 4) in response to his relentless attacks on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion} initiatives after Dr. Claudine Gay resigned as president of Harvard University on Tuesday (Jan. 2), after only sixth months in the role.

Members of his organization, the National Action Network chanted  "No justice, no peace!" and “When DEI is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” The demonstrators also held signs that “This is good trouble,” a nod to the late civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis.

Speaking to reporters following the protest, Sharpton shared the importance of organizing the demonstration.

“This issue is not just about what they did to the president of Harvard University. It’s about the use [of her] as a scapegoat to fight DEI,” Sharpton said. “We would not have to have DEI if we wouldn't have D-E-N-Y. We were denied. DEI was to make up for the denial historically of Blacks, of women, of gays, Latinos, and Asians.”

OPINION: Did Harvard Betray Dr. Claudine Gay?

In a post to X (formerly Twitter) Sharpton said the NAN intends to protest Ackman’s offices each Thursday as a response to Ackman’s activities and is encouraging others to join them.

Brad Lander, New York City’s Comptroller also joined Sharpton in the demonstration. Lander, who is Jewish, said that Ackman’s comments was the wrong approach to address antisemitism.

“I'm a proud Jewish, New Yorker and for what it's worth, I'm the highest-ranking Jewish person in the New York City government. What I know for certain is that we will defeat anti-Semitism is to join together in the struggle for diversity and inclusion, not by fomenting disingenuous attacks against leaders who are working for diversity and inclusion.

“In a week and a half we will observe Martin Luther King Day and a lot of Jews will think about and celebrate those photos of Rabbi [Abraham] Heschel and Dr. King marching together,” Lander continued. “That's a partnership that recognizes that civil rights have to be protected for everyone and that it is in the interests of all of us, New Yorkers, African Americans, and Jews have to fight for Diversity and Equity and Inclusion.”

Dr. Claudine Gay is now the former president of Harvard University.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay Resigns

Gay received backlash after giving controversial testimony at a Capitol Hill hearing on antisemitism on college campuses as well as being accused of plagiarism for her academic work

“Amidst all of this, it has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor—two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am—and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus,” she wrote in her resignation letter.

Ackman, who led the charge to remove Gay as president, took to X and described DEI programs as misguided because they seek to achieve "equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity."

“DEI is racist because reverse racism is racism, even if it is against white people (and it is remarkable that I even need to point this out). Racism against white people has become considered acceptable by many not to be ractively, it is deemed acceptable racism,” Ackman wrote in his 4,000-word post. “While this is, of course, absurd, it has become the prevailing view in many universities around the country.”

He also said that Harvard’s board would not terminate Gay because the members were afraid of being canceled.

“We are well past the point where Claudine Gay is the only one to blame for the mess that is Harvard. Ultimately, when management fails, the board needs to step in. It has failed to do so," his post read.. "As a result, the reputations of the eleven individuals who comprise the board are in the process of being destroyed. It is sad to watch this happen as there are some very high-quality people on this board."

Coming to Gay’s defense was Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the groundbreaking “1619 Project” in an appearance on “CNN NewsNight” with Abby Phillip.

“So they’re using the guise of pretending that this is about concern over antisemitism, which is, of course, something that all of us should be concerned about. It’s really just furthering their propaganda campaign against racial equity,” Hannah-Jones said in the interview.

In his concluding remarks, Sharpton made it known that he is willing to turn up the pressure on Ackman and anyone else who is seeking to eradicate DEI programs.

“Since this man decided that he would stand up and say that [it was right to take] out  Dr. Gay and DEI, I wanted to come to his office and let him that we will fight him,” Sharpton said.

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