Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters today that she would join Rev. Al Sharpton’s anti-police brutality march on Saturday.
Ms. Mark-Viverito had previously balked at attending the march in Staten Island, but confirmed this afternoon she would attend. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer, fellow Democrats, recently said they would skip the march.
“I will be marching on Saturday,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said at a press conference before a City Council meeting. “I believe that the march on Saturday is a healing moment for this city, for us to come together.”
Mr. Sharpton scheduled the march following the death of a Staten Island man in police custody a month ago. Eric Garner, 43, died after being placed in an apparent chokehold, a prohibited maneuver, setting off a new wave of controversy about how the NYPD interacts with minority communities.
Mr. Sharpton and some elected officials have said race played a factor in Mr. Garner’s death–Mr. Garner, who was black, was targeted by cops for selling untaxed cigarettes. Ms. Mark-Viverito once again would not say definitively if she agreed with Mr. Sharpton’s judgment.
The march took on new significance–and concerns about possible disorder–after a black man was killed by police in Ferugson, Missouri this month. Days of rioting followed the man’s death and questions have since been raised about whether the march on Saturday from the site of Mr. Garner’s death to Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan’s office will turn violent. Family of the slain Ferugson man, Michael Brown, will attend the march, Mr. Sharpton said yesterday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, said this week they expect a peaceful march. Ms. Mark-Viverito concurred.
“I think when we compare our experience in this city with rallies and demonstrations in the past, I think for the most part we have a pretty good record. And to see what’s happening in Ferguson is obviously distressing, it’s terrible,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said. “I’m not looking to make pronouncements. I’m just looking to be present and say I’m concerned as well.”