In an effort to improve relations between the New York City Police Department and city residents, the mayor, police commissioner and community activists gathered at City Hall Thursday for a roundtable discussion. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
While speaking directly with the police commissioner and mayor, the Rev. Al Sharpton was true to his style. He didn't bite his tongue while trying to drive home his point.
"If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold, and we've got to deal with that reality," Sharpton said.
Tensions are still running high as multiple investigations are ongoing into how officers subdued Eric Garner on Staten Island, one of them using an apparent chokehold. Garner died minutes later.
"Commissioner Bratton, who you told many of us who had questions about him, 'Give him the benefit of the doubt,' I think he was right when he said that you got to deal with training," Sharpton said. "But I also think, commissioner, that the best way to make police stop using illegal chokeholds is to perp walk one of them that did."
Mayor Bill de Blasio invited Sharpton and leaders from Staten Island to meet with him and Police Commissioner William Bratton at City Hall. This is yet another of the several gatherings with leaders that the mayor and commissioner have held since the tragic incident two weeks ago.
"It's the essence of a democracy to never shut down that dialogue," de Blasio said. "Rev. Sharpton has strong views, and I welcome the display of strong views on the pathway on figuring out how we can work together to make change."
De Blasio continues to stress full support for his police commissioner, who vows improvements in police-community relations.
"We will learn from this. We will move forward from this. We will move forward in a way
to insure that the memory of the tragedy is around the idea of the good that came out of it, rather than just the negative," Bratton said.
"When we're trying to resolve issues that were years and decades in the making, the work of reform takes real intensity, real effort and some real patience," de Blasio said.
With that, Sharpton said he can be a friend to the mayor, but pledged to be a real enemy if change doesn't happen. To show he's serious, Sharpton said he is planning a march across the Verazzano Bridge on August 23.