Reverend Al Sharpton sparked criticism from city officials this week after he announced plans to lead a march over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge this month to protest the death of Eric Garner. NYPD Commissioner Bratton argued that shutting down the bridge for the march would cause "significant safety issues;" today, Sharpton agreed to move the march to an undisclosed location on Staten Island.
The march, planned for Saturday, August 23rd, aims to seek justice for Staten Island resident Garner, who died last month after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer. Yesterday, Sharpton said he was amenable to moving the march, after officials and Mayor de Blasio raised concern about traffic jams and other security issues that would arise. "If not the bridge, then fine, don’t do the bridge,” he told the Daily News. “I don’t want the bridge to become an issue." Today, he agreed to move it, announcing that marchers would gather near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, then march to the office of Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan.
Not that the Verrazano will be taken out of the march completely; Sharpton also announced that a number of buses will form a "justice caravan" that will travel over the bridge to Staten Island. "“If you want to stop chokeholds, get on the bus,” Sharpton said today. “We march to say, ‘Give up the killers."
Sharpton has been highly critical of the NYPD since Garner's death last month. Last week, Sharpton slammed Bratton at a roundtable hosted by Mayor de Blasio, arguing that the NYPD had indeed targeted Garner for being black. Former mayor Rudy Giuliani said yesterday that it was "extremely damaging" for de Blasio to pit Sharpton against Bratton in such a public forum. Giuliani, who appeared on Geraldo Rivera's WABC-AM radio show, claimed de Blasio "needs to display some empathy for the police, as well as the community."