Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Mayor: Interfaith Roundtable on Police-Community Relations 'Extraordinary'

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TWC News: Mayor: Interfaith Roundtable on Police-Community Relations 'Extraordinary'
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Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Wednesday hosted an interfaith roundtable to discuss police-community relations in the aftermath of Eric Garner's death which Mayor Bill de Blasio described as "extraordinary."

The mayor and First Lady Chirlane McCray joined a group of religious leaders and NYPD brass at Dolan's residence in Midtown.

De Blasio spoke about how rare it is for such a diverse group to come together with a single purpose in mind.

He said religious leaders can help the police integrate with all corners of the city.

"We've experienced a tragedy with the death of Eric Garner but this is not about a single incident or being mired in the past. This is about a very purposeful and consistent path forward," De Blasio said.

"Religion in this great city is a cause of bringing people together it's a bridge. It's a source of reconciliation and peace and unity," Dolan said.

"We have to have a mutual respect for the law, the police that when we enforce it we do it lawfully, respectfully, consistently. And the public have a respect for the law that they obey it," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

The closed-door meeting in Midtown comes a day after Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan announced he will ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges against the city police officer who put Eric Garner in an alleged chokehold last month.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on video taking Garner down while police were trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.

Garner later died, and the city medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

Donovan says his decision to empanel a grand jury is based a thorough review by his office, and the ME's report.

Reverend Al Sharpton was also at Wednesday's meeting and said it represented an important contrast with how events are unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

He said he plans to go forward with a march on Staten Island on Saturday.

Brown's family will also attend the march.

Meantime, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson on Wednesday to take a closer look at the investigation.

Holder is going at the request of President Barack Obama.

In an op-ed piece for a St. Louis newspaper, Holder said he would personally meet with local leaders, FBI investigators and prosecutors from the Justice Department's Civil Rights division.

He also condemned the small number of looters and vandals in Ferguson, but said good policing requires officers to use appropriate force.

Holder's visit comes as a grand jury is expected to start hearing evidence as it weighs potential criminal charges against the officer who shot Brown to death on August 9.

On the streets of Ferguson Tuesday night, volunteers joined hands to serve as a buffer between protesters and police in an effort to keep things calm.

The protests remained peaceful until around midnight when tensions rose as police tried to remove some demonstrators.

Nearly 50 people were arrested.

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