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Garner Rally Could Be Crucial Test for Mayor

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Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Staten Island tomorrow to march in memory of Eric Garner, who died in police custody last month, a demonstration that could be a crucial test for the de Blasio administration. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Barricades are up, the New York City Police Department is ready to close off streets, and the mayor and police commissioner are expecting calm.

"Everyone shares the goal of a peaceful protest, and that's what you will see," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

"They can protest. They can participate in the rally and feel that they are going to be able to do that in a peaceful environment," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says demonstrations he has organized in the five boroughs have come a long way.

"We will be marching of all races in a new spirit," Sharpton said Wednesday.

Saturday's "We Will Not Go Back" march could provide a test for the mayor and how his administration handles a massive demonstration, one focused on a signature issue of his campaign: the police and the community.

"Politicians make promises, and then it falls on the police department to deliver the promises. But that's not an easy transition," said Maria Haberfeld of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

After all, history has shown these moments can be seminal.

Sources tell NY1 the NYPD is expected to have more of a "behind the scenes" role. The National Action Network is expected to deploy 500 of its own marshals, people like community leaders, who will be stationed along the march's route, managing participants and moving the crowd along.

City Hall says the NYPD presence will include hundreds of community affairs officers who are not in full-scale uniform.

The mayor is staying away from Staten Island, and every other citywide elected leader is passing on participating as well. The highest profile elected official to attend is Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council.

"I deliberated about this. I think we 're at a moment in time in this city where this rally is a moment to heal, to come together. It's not an anti-cop march in any which way," Mark-Viverito said.

While the mayor is not expected to attend Saturday's march, he will have a public schedule. He is expected to visit a church in Brooklyn. ClientIP:,, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP