New York: Big Al's Finest Hour

Sharpton emerges as the voice of black outrage

In the end, the trial in Albany never confronted the explosive question that lay at the heart of the case. If the unarmed Amadou Diallo had been a white youth instead of a dark-skinned immigrant from Africa, would he be alive today? "Race didn't become an issue during the trial," says attorney Johnnie Cochran, who got his start prosecuting cases of police misconduct in Los Angeles long before he ever heard of O.J. Simpson and who briefly served as a legal adviser to Diallo's family. "It was like there was a big pink elephant in the room and everyone acted like...

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