Wall Street Journal
Dec. 16, 2014 8:46 p.m.


Protest Organizers to Meet With New York Mayor

Protest Organizers Plan to Meet with Mayor de Blasio Friday

By MARA GAY

Organizers of the protests over the death of Eric Garner will meet with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday, as many continue to take to the streets demanding changes to policing.

The meeting between Mr. de Blasio and activists is scheduled to take place at City Hall, said Michael Skolnik, a board member of Justice League NYC, a protest group that sought the meeting. The group staged a demonstration outside Gracie Mansion on Monday.

“We come open and willing to listen,” Mr. Skolnik said. He said the activists hadn’t set demands the mayor needed to meet to end the protests that have rippled across the city since a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Mr. Garner.

Mr. Garner died after being placed in an apparent chokehold during an arrest in July. Police have said he was selling untaxed cigarettes.

“They wrote us a brief email saying, ‘Let’s get on the phone,’ ” Mr. Skolnik said, referring to de Blasio administration officials. He said he expected about 15 activists to attend the meeting and hoped it would be productive.

A spokesman for the mayor said Mr. de Blasio would hear the group’s concerns and “detail the substantive policy changes that he and the police commissioner have already put in place to bring police and community closer together, all while keeping crime low.”

The spokesman said Mr. de Blasio would also “reiterate his calls for protests to be nonviolent and respectful.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the mayor shouldn’t meet with Justice League NYC “until they publicly denounce the individuals who assaulted police officers or who have attempted to incite violence during these protests.”

Meanwhile Tuesday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he might be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement of a $75 million civil-rights claim expected to be filed by Mr. Garner’s family.

The New York City Law Department, which is controlled by the mayor, typically settles such civil-rights claims. Mr. Stringer said in an interview that his office is considering whether it could save time and money for both the city and the Garner family by settling the suit on its own.

Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said the agency is willing to work with Mr. Stringer on the claim. “The comptroller has the authority to settle claims against the city before a lawsuit is filed. We trust that he will exercise that authority wisely,” Mr. Paolucci said.

Jonathan C. Moore, the attorney for the Garner family, said that while the family is open to speaking with Mr. Stringer and settling out of court, money alone wouldn’t satisfy their demands.

Mr. Moore said the Garner family wants to see policy changes in the city’s policing to help prevent a similar death in the future.

“We’re not just going to walk away because of a monetary settlement,” Mr. Moore said. “There are some real training policy and practice issues that should be addressed.”