Beloved singer and activist Harry Belafonte put both feet down in the paint on Sunday when he compared the Tea Party-supporting Koch brothers to the KKK, the New York Post reports.
Belafonte, 87, was warming up the mostly black congregation at the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem to introduce democratic mayoral front-runner, Bill de Blasio. In his speech, Belafonte told the crowd, “Already we have lost 14 states in this union to the most corrupt group of citizens I’ve ever known. They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names,” Belafonte said.
“They are flooding our country with money. They’ve come into New York City — they are beginning to buy their way into city politics. They are pouring money into Presbyterian Hospital to take over the medical care system.
“The Koch brothers, that’s their name,” he added.
De Blasio then took to the stage, hugged Belafonte and praised him as “a treasure to our nation” who “hasn’t changed one bit.” De Blasio did not address Belafonte's remarks, the New York Post reports. De Blasio did tell reporters after Belafonte's speech, "I disagree with that characterization" and that was "the wrong way to talk about them."
The campaign of de Blasio's Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, released a statement saying, "It's reprehensible that a candidate for mayor of the city of New York would closely associate himself with an individual who has equated the American government to al Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers and has a long history of hateful, racist remarks," according to the Post.
"One of our greatest mayors, Ed Koch, denounced Mr. Belafonte and urged other Democrats to do the same. Our public leaders must have the courage and conviction to speak out against unacceptable conduct. Mr. de Blasio had that opportunity and failed,” the statement said.
Belafonte didn't back down when asked outside of the church about his position. "There is a difference between what I think on many issues and what de Blasio thinks. And I don't hold him hostage to my feelings. I didn't hold [President John] Kennedy hostage. I didn't hold Dr. [Martin Luther] King hostage," he said.
"My feelings are my feelings. As far as the Koch brothers are concerned, they are not my cup of tea."
Read more at the New York Post.