- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Florida sheriff is telling the Rev. Al Sharpton to get lost after the civil rights leader led a rally for a slain black man in Clearwater over the weekend.

“I wasn’t there, and I don’t really care what Al Sharpton has to say,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday at an unrelated news conference in St. Petersburg. “Go back to New York. Mind your own business.”

Mr. Sharpton on Sunday criticized the sheriff for invoking the state’s “stand your ground” law and declining to make an arrest after Michael Drejka, who is white, allegedly shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, who was unarmed, during a fight in a convenience store parking lot last month.

Mr. Sharpton, joining hundreds of people at the St. John Primitive Baptist Church, called on local leaders to file charges against Mr. Drejka, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“If you got to the scene, Mr. Sheriff, and Markeis had been standing over the white man, you would have cuffed him and taken him in jail,” Mr. Sharpton said during the rally. “[Mr. Drejka] killed an unarmed black man who was standing up for his family. Lock him up, or give up your badge.”

Sheriff Gualtieri brushed off Mr. Sharpton’s comments as “a bunch of rhetoric.”

“It’s really easy to go around throwing wild allegations that have no basis in the air and inflaming people when there’s just no basis for it,” the sheriff told the Times. “That’s wrong and irresponsible.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Sharpton sent the Times a statement comparing Sheriff Gualtieri’s comments to “those of sheriffs out of the 1960s that used to call civil rights leaders invited in by victims, ‘outside agitators.’”

“I came at the invitation of the family and literally thousands of people in his county,” it said. “Additionally, five candidates for governor joined me because he did not take care of his business. It would not be necessary for me to do so if he took care of his own, and until he does I will keep coming to Clearwater.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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