Dear Ms. Byrd (C/o Lee Bailey):
I am in receipt of an open letter stating that it came from you. If in fact it did come from you let me say that this is the first communication we have received from you personally. In fact, the first knowledge we had of this matter at all was a little over three-weeks-ago, even though according to your letter and public reports the legal matter was over a year old.
At the time, we also received a call from a community leader who said they were in touch with you stating that you wanted to sue National Action Network and/or me. Despite the fact that we could not confirm that the message came from you or a legal representative of yours, we immediately turned it over to our General Counsel.
At the time we were clearly confused as to why we were being brought into a case that was seemingly over a year old and why we were being asked for money. Our General Counsel was instructed to alert the Los Angeles authorities, if in fact this was real.
For the record, Mr. Wafford served as Chairman of the Los Angeles Chapter and was voted in from the members of that chapter and he has never been a salaried member of our staff. According to the public information we have reviewed, the activities alleged were related to his and your employment with an organization that has nothing to do with us. Therefore, we had no direct action that could be taken over an employee. We could, however, look into the matter if it were coming from a woman in our community stating that she had been violated and wanted us to take the position of either standing up for her rights or disassociating ourselves from the person violating her rights. We did not have a direct appeal from you or any of the organizations you listed. In fact, we have heard nothing from you prior to the open letter, if in fact you issued the letter sent to us by a reporter.
As you stated we have represented many cases over our 20-year history, from Sean Bell to Michael Jackson, and from the Jena Six to Amadou Diallo. We have never gotten involved in a case without the victim coming to us and our legal team and victims unit being able to vet the information so that we were completely secure that we could withstand being sued by the accused. I may add you wrongfully stated that we were involved in the Duke Lacrosse case. We were not involved in that case because we never directly heard from the victim and therefore could not vet the public allegation. Having said that, we are obligated and committed to take seriously any claims of injustice that anyone brings to us, particularly if it involves people associated with us in any form or fashion, and we would aggressively do it very publicly if in fact we had the information and could assess the situation with the aggrieved party and/or victim. To do so otherwise would open us up to moving forward publicly without due diligence and we would be subject to serious litigation from the accused who could rightfully say that we had no basis to make a statement or take action.
Mr. Wafford and an attorney sent us a letter after the issue went public three-weeks-ago, at which time he removed himself from his voluntary position through a “leave of absence.” We never heard from you directly or from any person claiming to represent you, other than the one community leader that stated rightfully or wrongly that you sought some finances from National Action Network and/or me. If in fact it is your intention to legally seek finances from National Action Network and/or me as told to us, I would urge you to immediately have your legal representative contact our General Counsel Attorney Michael Hardy to discuss this. If that is not the case and as a member of our community you seek us to look into the matter and take a public position on your behalf then we would request that you and/or a representative of yours or the support organizations you mention, contact Attorney Hardy and state that this is the position and we will aggressively and expeditiously look into this situation.
We as an organization, and I as a leader of this organization, take very seriously all injustice. However, we cannot move on situations that we are not aware of, and we cannot proceed without protecting ourselves by investigating the information. We have been sued, jailed and disparaged in many cases that we have chose to stand up for so we always proceed with
a perfect balance of speed and caution.
I respond to you publicly because this is the only communication that I have received from you or any support groups and I anxiously await for someone to contact our national General Counsel if in fact that is your petition to us.
Reverend Al Sharpton
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