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A Harvard Law School professor has joined civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton to defend a rap group implicated in the Sept. 25 stabbing of Boston Celtic Paul Pierce.
Climenko Professor of Law Charles J. Ogletree, along with Sharpton and Source magazine CEO David Mays, held a press conference at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham yesterday afternoon, where Raymond Scott, leader of the rap group Made Men is imprisoned on an unrelated assault charge.
Earlier in the day, the three men had attended the pre-trial hearing in Boston municipal court of Tony Hurston, an employee of Mays's who has also been implicated in the Pierce stabbing. Police say that Hurston instigated the fight with Pierce, but Hurston maintains his innocence, according to the Boston Globe.
Two others affiliated with Made Men are charged with being involved in the stabbing.
Scott has not been charged in the case.
In a telephone interview, attorney John Swomley, who represents both Hurston and Scott, said that he was pleased to have Ogletree involved. "Ogletree will work on some trial and media strategy," Swomley said, calling Hurston's situation "tragic." Commenting on Hurston's involvement with the Pierce stabbing, he said Hurston "has nothing to do with it."
Sharpton, who is president of the National Action Network (NAN), said he plans to use the Scott case as a prime example of racial stereotyping in his summit, which will be held Oct. 30 at the NAN headquarters in Harlem.
Last summer, Scott alleges, two Braintree police officers wrongly arrested him after he made a legitimate purchase on his own credit card.
An all-white, six-person jury later acquitted the police officers of criminal charges.
Outside the correction facility yesterday, Sharpton said, "There is a trend in this nation to stereotype people based on their music, dress, and friends. We have to do better than that."
In an effort to highlight Scott's merits, Sharpton noted that he is currently collaborating with a Jewish inmate on a book of essays and poems.
"Ray is turning a negative into a positive," he said.
Sharpton's summit will seek to examine the correlation between the hip-hop industry and violence.
Sharpton said he hopes that the image of hip-hop will be recreated as "socially responsible." He claims that hip-hop, "an urban artform and artstyle," is just trying become established as a viable part of American culture.
Sharpton said the legacy of the summit will be "to redirect a lot of young people, inspire young people, and to make a positive."
Ogletree was unavailable for comment yesterday.
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