One Good Cop

Retiring NYPD Detective Bill Jackson Was No Ordinary Policeman—He Even Rescued Al Sharpton and Me From a Jewish Mob

Jackson eyes his watch: It's now 3:54 p.m.

"What kind of standards are you looking for?" the reporter asks.

"One standard is that you don't shoot a man when there is a life-extenuating circumstance."

Badge of honor: detective William Jackson often placed his life on the line for peace in racially explosive situations.
photo: Dennis Kleiman
Badge of honor: detective William Jackson often placed his life on the line for peace in racially explosive situations.

Suddenly a Kahane Chai protester confronts Jackson, shouting, "I wanna talk to him. How can he come over here? Why is he here?" Jackson shrugs.

"Al, lemme ask you a question," the heckler persists, edging over Jackson's shoulder. "Answer me, please. How can you come here in the Jewish community and the next word you say by the next demonstration is 'kikes'?"

Sharpton vehemently denies ever using the slur.

"You did say that!" the heckler charges, pointing a finger at Sharpton.

"That's not true!" Sharpton reiterates.

Then someone demands to know what role Sharpton played in the massacre of seven people at Freddy's Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned clothing store in Harlem that was being picketed by black activists when it was firebombed in 1995. Summarily, several members of the mob accuse Sharpton of causing the deaths.

"Go on!" a man who says he's a Talmudic scholar bellows at Sharpton. "Get outta here! We don't need you! You preach hate against Jews!" Finally, Jackson tells Sharpton in no uncertain terms that this is a good time to get out of the pressure cooker.

"Don't shout!" Sharpton replies to the man mischievously. "Behave yourself. I'll be back Sunday."

"Go make some riot somewhere else!" shouts a little boy.

"Give him some room!" Jackson orders. "Give the reverend some room!"

"Anti-Semite!" howls a young Kahane Chai protester running alongside the departing vehicle. "You'll pay!" he adds. "We're gonna get rid of all youse. We're gonna put in Chinese. We're gonna move the Chinese into our neighborhood. We don't need your kind!"

As the van pulls away, Sharpton raises the volume on the James Brown CD, and "The Big Payback" resounds throughout the vehicle. I look back at Jackson through the driver's side-view mirror. He salutes. No sweat. Just another meltdown in the pressure cooker.

Note: The dinner honoring Detective William Jackson will be held on March 1 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Russo's on the Bay, 162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens. For information, contact Sergeant Vanessa Ferro at 212-374-0298 or Officer Eric Liburd at 212-678-1849. Tickets must be purchased by February 28.

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