December 17, 2014

Bill de Blasio to Meet With Eric Garner Protesters Friday

By Sybile Penhirin

Steve Mack/Getty Images

A masked man holds a sign in Washington Square Park before the Millions March NYC on Dec. 13, 2014.

CITY HALL — Mayor Bill de Blasio invited some of the organizers of the Eric Garner protests to meet with him on Friday, officials said Wednesday.

The mayor will meet with Justice League NYC, an organization made of juvenile justice experts, criminal justice advocates, formerly incarcerated people and artists who are calling for change in the criminal justice system, according to a spokeswoman for de Blasio.

It was not clear if the mayor planned to meet with other groups. De Blasio's spokeswoman did not immediately provide additional details.

Justice League NYC members have organized some of the protests that followed the decision by a grand jury not to indict the police officer who put Garner in a chokehold, killing him.

The group's latest protest happened on Monday in front of Gracie Mansion where dozens of activists held signs that read "It's de Blasio time and Eric Garner is dead," and "I can't breathe," according to photos published on the organization's twitter account.

The group has been calling for a meeting with the mayor since Dec. 8, according to a statement on its website.

“We’re looking forward to a productive meeting with the mayor and we’re hopeful that we can find common grounds,” said Michael Slonik, a Justice League board member who works as a political director for Russell Simmons.

Justice League NYC recently created an online petition in which it listed 10 demands following the grand jury decision on Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

The demands include the immediate firing of Pantaleo and the other officers involved in the incident, the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute criminal cases involving the use of force by police officers and the end to NYPD's "Broken Windows" program, which emphasizes low-level crimes, the statement read.

Skolnik said the group will discuss these requests with Mayor de Blasio on Friday.

But the city's Patrolmen's Benevolent association did not approve of the meeting.

"Mayor de Blasio should not meet with the Justice League NYC until they publicly denounce the individuals who assaulted police officers or who have attempted to incite violence during these protests," PBA president Patrick J. Lynch wrote in a statement, referring to recent incidents during which protesters assaulted police officers.

The most recent attacks happened during the Millions March NYC demonstration on Dec. 13 when protesters punched two NYPD lieutenants, breaking the nose of one of them and leaving them both with bruises and cuts, according to the police, who is still looking for seven suspects in this case.

A week earlier, on Dec. 4, a protester was arrested after sucker-punching three police officers during a protest against police brutality.

Skolnik told the New York Times that Justice League NYC condemned these attacks.