Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Interfaith Leaders Discuss Police-Community Relations

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Mayor Bill de Blasio today is attending an interfaith roundtable meeting on strengthening police-community relations with city clergy members, hosted by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The closed door meeting in Midtown comes a day after Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan announced he will ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges against the city police officer who put Eric Garner in an alleged chokehold last month.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo was caught on video using a chokehold on Garner while police were trying to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes.

Garner later died, and the city medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

Donovan says his decision to empanel a grand jury is based a thorough review by his office, and the ME's report.

Reverend Al Sharpton is set to lead a march through Staten Island in honor of Garner on Saturday.

The family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old man who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, will also attend the march.

Meantime, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is set to visit Ferguson today to take a closer look at the investigation.

Holder is going at the request of President Barack Obama.

In an op-ed piece for a St. Louis newspaper, Holder said he would personally meet with local leaders, FBI investigators and prosecutors from the Justice Department's Civil Rights division.

He also condemned the small number of looters and vandals in Ferguson, but said good policing requires officers to use appropriate force.

Holder's visit comes as a grand jury is expected to start hearing evidence as it weighs potential criminal charges against the officer who shot Brown to death on August 9.

On the streets of Ferguson Tuesday night, volunteers joined hands to serve as a buffer between protesters and police in an effort to keep things calm.

The protests remained peaceful until around midnight when tensions rose as police tried to remove some demonstrators.

Nearly 50 people were arrested.

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