Akai Gurley Wake

A wake was held this cold wet December evening for Akai Gurley, the man killed by a police officer’s reportedly accidental shot in the stairwell of Brooklyn’s Pink Houses.  Here’s the scene as Gurley’s casket was carried into the church:

Why People Come To Me

How has the Rev. Al Sharpton remained a central political player for more than 20 years, with close ties to the president of the United States and the mayor of New York City?  It baffles many who follow politics casually, especially those who are primarily familiar with his missteps, from Tawana Brawley to Freddy’s Fashion Mart to his tax problems, but not familiar with much of what he does.

His communication skills are a central element, but it’s more than his speaking talents.  Key to his longevity is his creation and filling of an institutional role.  Sharpton gave his own effective description Thursday during a press conference discussing the Eric Garner case, Sharpton’s call for federally “centralizing” investigations of civilians killed by police and a planned march in Washington, D.C.

de Blasio & Post-Garner NYPD Training

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an NYPD training program designed to avoid police/civilian confrontations like the arrest in which Eric Garner died.  Speaking Thursday at the new police academy in College Point, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton outlined a three-day training course intended to enhance officers’ ability to diffuse and de-escalate confrontations.  The mayor and police also extensively discussed the Garner case and grand jury decision, as well as the continuing street protests.

de Blasio Statement:

In a lengthy opening statement Mayor de Blasio discussed the new training program, the Garner case and it’s aftermath and broad issues around the NYPD.  He characterized his administration’s efforts as a “series of reforms that all work together that synergize to change the dynamic between police and community.”

(Continue to full post for the Q&A and Bratton’s statement) Continue reading de Blasio & Post-Garner NYPD Training

Sharpton Calls for Federal Intervention, Plans DC March

The Rev. Al Sharpton today called for “federal intervention” to “centralize” criminal investigations and prosecutions of police officers.  Declaring that the “grand jury system is broken” in “dealing with police … questions of criminality and killings” Sharpton urged federal government action akin to the mid-20th century actions on enforcing civil rights.

Speaking after a meeting of approximately 25 organizations, Sharpton also briefly outlined plans for a December 13th march in Washington, D.C.  The focus of the march will be “addressing a broken system.”  Here’s Sharpton’s statement:


Speaking a press conference on Wednesday evening, Sharpton briefly mentioned that he and Eric Garner’s family had spoken with Governor Cuomo.  Today I asked Sharpton about that call.  By his description of their call, the governor “support[s] the federal government coming in.”  Here’s Sharpton’s full answer:


Here is the full Q&A:

de Blasio on Garner Grand Jury

Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed frustration and sadness in lengthy remarks on the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner matter.  de Blasio spoke at the Mt. Sinai United Christian Church on Staten Island, close to the site of Garner’s death.  de Blasio was joined by elected officials including Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senator Diane Savino and Council Members Brad Lander, Debi Rose, Vanessa Gibson and Robert Cornegy.

Here is de Blasio’s full statement:

Sharpton Speaks

The Rev. Al Sharpton hosted Eric Garner’s wife, mother and three of his children for a press conference at Sharpton’s House of Justice.  Addressing the grand jury decision to not indict the police officer who caused Garner’s death, Sharpton “connected the dots” of other cases of African Americans or Latinos killed by police, from Anthony Baez and Abner Louima to Michael Brown and Akai Gurley, urging action.  Among the actions he discussed is a march in Washington on December 13th.

Horse Trading

A long contemplated New York City ban on carriage horses returned to center stage Tuesday, following news of a proposed city council bill.  A proposed bill is expected next week, with committee hearings and a vote expected over the next several months.  Mayor de Blasio has been a strong advocate of such a ban, calling for an immediate ban as a mayoral candidate, although he’s not acted to implement such a ban during his 11 months in office.

Mayor de Blasio Comments:

Mayor de Blasio was asked about the expected bill three times during an unrelated press conference on Tuesday.  Questions included what he plans to do to get the bill passed, a ban’s likely effect on tourism in the City and whether he intends to engage in any political “horse trading” to win passage of the bill.

Continue reading Horse Trading