Sharpton says Dunbar Village defendants being treated unfairly
Also speaks on Florida delegate controversy
WEST PALM BEACH - Speaking outside the State Attorney's Office on Tuesday morning, the Rev. Al Sharpton decried what he said was unequal treatment of the young defendants charged in the Dunbar Village attack and the teens recently arrested on charges of a rape west of Boca Raton.
Backed by relatives of three of the teenagers facing life in prison if convicted in last year's brutal rape of a Dunbar Village resident, Sharpton said any act of violence against a woman is inexcusable, but he is seeking fairness considering that the teens charged in a New Year's Day assault west of Boca Raton are free on bond.
"You cannot have one set of rules for acts that are wrong and horrific in Boca and another set in Dunbar Village," Sharpton said. "You must have equal protection under the law."
Avion Lawson, 14, Nathan Walker, 17, Tommy Poindexter, 18, and Jakaris Taylor, 16, all were charged as adults with multiple felonies connected to the attack, in which police say the victim was repeatedly assaulted and forced to engage in a sexual act with her young son. Taylor already reached an agreement that would send him to prison for 20 years after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one count of burglary.
All four teens remain behind bars at the Palm Beach County Jail, while five teens charged as adults with sexual battery on a physically incapacitated person and lewd and lascivious battery all have posted bonds as they await trial. William Long, 18, Alex Perriello, 16, Eduardo Otaegui, 17, Ryan Lafferty, 14, and Blake Carter, 14, are accused of assaulting two middle school students along a canal bank after a night of drinking west of Boca Raton.
Maude Ford Lee, president of the West Palm Beach chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she hoped Sharpton's presence would help expose the "injustice."
"We're quite concerned it seems there is a different kind of action that takes place with black kids and white kids," Lee said. "We have one set of kids in Boca who have done primarily the same crime and they are home with their families. Our kids are incarcerated, they can't even get a bond and it's unconscionable what is happening."
Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the State Attorney's Office, said the allegations levied at Tuesday's press conference do not even deserve a response.
Dunbar Village was not the only topic of discussion - Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, also briefly spoke of his intent to sue the Democratic National Committee if it decides to seat Florida's delegates at the convention.
"Those people that did not vote because they were told their votes wouldn't count would in fact be disenfranchised," Sharpton said. "This is a voter rights issue."
Sharpton said there are "literally thousands" of people who could potentially sign affidavits in support of a lawsuit and take the issue of the Democratic primary to court.
"That's enough to enjoin the DNC if they say we're going to seat this delegation," he said.
Sharpton abruptly left the press conference after local attorney Richard Keith Alan, upset that questions from reporters to Sharpton were centered on the election rather than Dunbar Village, interrupted Sharpton.
Nancy Othón can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-228-5502.
Copyright © 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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