Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio visited Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem Saturday morning to talk about Nelson Mandela’s legacy, but he was not the main focus of the event. He brought along his choice to lead the NYPD, William Bratton, who promised the police force under his leadership would be respectful and committed to freedom and equality for all. Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Reverend Al Sharpton was in a good position on Saturday, between the mayor-elect and his choice to lead the NYPD.
"This is not about Bratton or Sharpton or de Blasio this is about one city with one goal with equal protection under the law,” Sharpton said.
Incoming police commissioner William Bratton chose the National Action Network in Harlem as his first public appearance since mayor-elect Bill de Blasio selected him as the new police commissioner.
He offered an olive branch of sorts.
"My commitment to you, the commitment of this mayor, is that there will be freedom and equality for all and that our commitment to you is that your police force, in your city will be respectful. It will practice what Mandela preached,” Bratton said.
"Together, with all of us, we’ll achieve that partnership for the people of New York City,” de Blasio said.
Sharpton had mixed reactions to Bratton's appointment earlier this week, saying their relationship had been adversarial during Bratton's years as Mayor Giuliani's police chief. At the time, both Bratton and Giuliani refused to meet with Sharpton.
When Bratton moved to the LAPD in 2002, that relationship, Sharpton says, turned into an alliance.
"As Mandela said, you can disagree without being disagreeable,” Sharpton said.
Bratton's reception here in Harlem was mixed. Some cheering inside, but outside others were not as taken.
"We want to see new results I don't want to see old results,” one New Yorker said.
Neither the mayor-elect nor Bratton took questions outside of the National Action Network.
Bratton did tell community members he looked forward to working with them in the future.
Surrounded by media outside, Bratton told those skeptical of his appointment they could find common ground.
"Best of what we he did in Los Angeles, take the best of what Bloomberg and Kelly did and we move forward and hopefully leave the things that weren't so good behind. And the accountability I believe lies with the mayor in the direction the police department goes,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams.