updated 11/01/2007 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/01/2007 AT 2:45 PM ET
The Rev. Al Sharpton says he is willing to meet Duane “Dog” Chapman, the A&E reality star who is under fire for making racist remarks, and would like Chapman to join in an upcoming march on Washington, D.C., to demonstrate his opposition to hate crimes and racism.
Sharpton’s v.p. of communications, Rachel Noerdlinger, confirms that the Dog the Bounty Hunter star, 54, has called the minster’s National Action Network several times in the past day, seeking a meeting following the public airing of a taped phone call in which Chapman makes racist slurs.
Sharpton was not available to receive the calls but has written Chapman a letter, in which he agrees to meet with him – but says he will not disrupt his preparations for the D.C. march to do so.
“If you wish to meet with me somewhere on the road that is fine, but be assured that I will not sanitize the kind of hate language that leads to the hate action that has left so many people vulnerable in America today,” writes Sharpton, 53.
Sharpton’s message goes on to invite Chapman to join the march to show his support for the victims of racism – people who “unlike you don’t have publicists, don’t have lawyers, and don’t have any protection.”
Noerdlinger said she did not know if Chapman had responded to the letter.
Full text of Sharpton’s letter
Dear Mr. Chapman:
I received your call while on the road promoting a March I am leading on the United States Justice Department on November 16th in Washington, DC , along with Martin Luther King, III, and other leaders in the community against hate crimes and racial attacks around the country. The revelation of your conversation came at a time that is most frightening to a lot of people because we are in a state of crisis with the proliferation of racial attacks, hate crimes, and bias incidents in the United States and abroad. In fact, Abraham H. Foxman, the Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League and I released an unprecedented joint statement today because of this climate. Even more concerning to me though is that the Justice Department and the federal government have failed to intervene in cases all over the country of racial bigotry and hate which is the reason we are having our march on Nov. 16th in front of the Justice Department.
As a Minister I would be inclined to meet with you despite the racist and grotesque things I heard you say, but I am not willing to rearrange my schedule around the country building up for this march to do so. If you wish to meet with me somewhere on the road that is fine, but be assured that I will not sanitize the kind of hate language that leads to the hate action that has left so many people vulnerable in America today. The company that airs the show has the right to take steps by any means when there is a public display of a character of bigotry. We did not call on your company’s action but we will not call against your company’s action, because what was said in private is now public, and they have a right to deal with their public perception.
If you are sincere that this does not reflect you, you should not only meet with us, but you should march with us on November 16th and call on the government of the United States to protect people, that unlike you don’t have publicists, don’t have lawyers, and don’t have any protection. They used to have the protection of the United States government.
In Progress, Reverend Al Sharpton President of National Action Network