NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fallout from the police custody death of Eric Garner continued Wednesday, as the Rev. Al Sharpton claimed he has the right to dictate police policy because he and his supporters “won the election.”
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Sharpton lashed out at critics who questioned his right to tell Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton how to police the city in the wake of Garner’s death on Staten Island.
“We came out as a coalition against stop and frisk. We came out against some profiling. It determined the results of the mayor’s election. We changed laws in one election,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton made it clear that he thinks his demand for an end to the stop, question and frisk policing strategy had an impact on de Blasio’s victory in the mayoral election last year. Sharpton said the demand was also behind with his own refusal to endorse former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, the only African-American candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary.
Sharpton said he feels he made de Blasio mayor.
“We won the election,” Sharpton said.
He claimed further that he is being held to a double standard vis-à-vis the police commissioner.
“I can say what I believe to Bratton. I’m the guy that let Bratton come to Harlem, to my headquarters, when he was first appointed,” he said. “So when Bratton comes on my stage, it’s all right, but if I question a policy, I’m dividing the city. Come on, let’s have an adult conversation.”
Sharpton’s latest outburst came after a meeting with community, religious, and labor leaders to plan an Aug. 23 arch across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn – to dramatize Garner’s death and the fight for racial justice.
Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said Sharpton has been given too much influence.
“It’s a bad precedent when one community activist can then tell the entire city administration how to behave, and how the Police Department should be governed,” Sheinkopf said.
De Blasio has given Sharpton a prominent place at his table, saying he values Sharpton’s advice. Some at City Hall believe that having Sharpton on his side may help de Blasio keep racial peace as Garner’s death is investigated.
But Sheinkopf said it is a political slippery slope nonetheless.
“The voters ultimately will make the decision about whether ‘commissioner’ Sharpton does a good job on reducing crime, or whether Commissioner Bratton does a good job,” Sheinkopf said.
Sharpton’s followers said they hope to have 50,000 people march across the Verrazano Bridge, leading to the question of whether the bridge will have to be closed, or whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the bridge, will issue a permit.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) have both denounced the plan, saying it could cause gridlock and inconvenience for Brooklyn and Staten Island residents. Astorino has asked Gov. Cuomo to deny Sharpton access to the bridge.
Kramer asked Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Adam Lisberg about Sharpton’s plan. Lisberg responded, “Declining to discuss this, sorry.”
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