NEW YORK — The Rev. Al Sharpton, the flamboyant black activist who was arrested for staging a sit-in at the Helmsley Palace Hotel, was sentenced today to 70 hours of community service in a hospital of his choice.
He vowed to toil at an "all-white senior citizens" center.
In his plea for mercy from Criminal Court Judge Jo Ann Ferdinand, Sharpton told her: "You will be sending a bad signal to the city if you put someone in jail or give him a conditional discharge for demonstrating for the homeless when drug dealers are treated much better in this same building."
Sharpton and five other people were arrested for trespassing Jan. 15 after staging a 30-minute sit-in at the Madison Avenue hotel. The sit-in followed a Martin Luther King Candlelight March for the homeless sponsored by the United African Movement.
Sharpton was convicted in a non-jury trial in June of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.