Holy Wow, the Mayor Plans to Meet with Protest Leaders

Russel Simmons marches with the Justice League (via Twitter @NYJusticeLeague)

This Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with organizers from Justice League NYC, one of the groups that’s been spearheading the Eric Garner protests. The group has led demonstrations across the city—including outside of Gracie Mansion—since early December, when a Staten Island jury decided not to indict a police officer for killing the unarmed black man after placing him in a chokehold.

The Justice League, as part of Gathering For Justice, an activist group founded by King of Calypso and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, seeks to put an end to child incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.  According to their Facebook page, the league sent a letter to the Mayor on December 9th, requesting a meeting to discuss the protestors’ demands. Last week, the group announced a 10-point list outside of City Hall.

A few demands are directly related to the Eric Garner case, including the immediate firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo (the cop who killed Garner), and a call for the Attorney General to expedite the continuing investigation. But the majority of the group’s plan calls for sweeping policy changes to the criminal justice system in New York, including “an immediate end to [the] NYPD’s ‘Broken Windows’ policing, which overwhelmingly targets black and brown communities,” the implementation of a training program for police cadets that emphasizes non-violent deescalation tactics, and the appointment of a special state prosecutor to investigate cases of lethal force.

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Following Saturday’s incident in which two NYPD officers after breakaway protestors continued demonstrations across the Brooklyn Bridge, the Mayor condemned the attacks as a disappointing departure from what have so far been peaceful acts of dissent. “We will not allow a small contingent of agitators to bring disorder and violence to these protests,” he said. Meanwhile, the Mayor has continued to support the protestors’ right to peaceful demonstration.

The Justice League, which models its practices after Martin Luther King’s commitment to peaceful demonstration, also issued a statement over the weekend characterizing the isolated incidents of violence against police officers as anathema to the cause.

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