De Blasio: ‘Honest’ Talk About Racism Needed

NEW YORK (AP) -

Going on national media, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton on Sunday discussed protests after a grand jury decided not to indict a white officer in the death of a black Staten Island man.

De Blasio said there has to be “an honest conversation” about the history of racism in the U.S. to help bring together police and the community. He declined to answer specifically when ABC host George Stephanopoulos pressed him on whether he respected the grand jury’s decision last week. De Blasio said he respects the judicial process and is focusing on how to change the dynamics between police and residents to bring them closer.

He refuted criticism from a police union official that he wasn’t supporting the officers and said he has “immense respect for the men and women who protect us.”

Bratton told CBS that an internal NYPD investigation could take “upwards of three to four months,” adding that interviews of officers had already started. The NYPD investigation will determine if any policies were violated and would likely conclude before a federal civil rights probe that was also announced last week.

Eric Garner’s wife told NBC that her husband may have had a history of encounters with police but never resisted arrest.

“I’m not going to say he was a career criminal, but I’m going to say he had a past of being arrested,” she said. “And he never, not once, ever resisted arrest.”

Esaw Garner said police knew her husband’s history — “It’s just something that he continued to do and the police knew,” she said — and would harass their family.

“They said things to us. ‘Hi Cigarette Man. Hey Cigarette Man Wife,’” she said.

Esaw Garner said she told her husband to ignore police, but he had a difficult time doing it. “How much can I ignore them?” he would ask.

Meanwhile, protesters around the country staged die-ins, blocked roadways and marched into stores. Hundreds of protesters briefly laid down in Macy’s flagship store, Grand Central Terminal and an Apple store. They streamed along Fifth Avenue sidewalks and other parts of Manhattan, with signs and chants of “KKK,” “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe.”

They later blocked traffic on the FDR Drive in Lower Manhattan, spurring more than 280 arrests.

In Oakland, California, hundreds of protesters briefly blocked I-880, a major freeway, on Friday night.