HARLEM --The Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday that demonstrators protesting the death of Eric Garner will convene on Staten Island but will not march on foot across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Buses and car caravans will carry protesters to Staten Island for the Aug. 23 "We Will Not Go Back" march, he said
Last week, Sharpton said he was planning a march across the bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Some elected officials complained that such a march would snarl traffic in the entire region. There is no pedestrian walkway on the bridge, so marchers would have to use the main roadway, shutting it down to cars. The protest would also have taken place on Staten Island.
Sharpton said Saturday that the protest is not about the bridge or about Staten Island. He said it's about seeking justice for Garner. Garner died July 17 after police tried to arrest him on Staten Island. The city medical examiner's ruled he was killed by neck compressions caused by an apparent police chokehold.
Late Friday night, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio toured a community center with a roller rink in Brooklyn, but couldn't skate away from the Garner chokehold controversy.
"There are very real logistical challenges vis a vis the bridge and the reverend has acknowledged that, so I think we'll wait and see how the next days play out, but I think we have a good chance of coming to a solution that works fairly," de Blasio said Friday.
The mayor stopped short of calling on Sharpton to choose a different venue, though earlier Friday NYPD Commissioner William Bratton called it a big safety concern. "Would the preference be that he find another place? Certainly," Bratton said.
Thousands of supporters are expected to protest the death of Garner.
The mayor also has come under fire for appearing between Bratton and Sharpton at a roundtable discussion last week.
"I thought it was a big mistake that the mayor made in setting up a conference like that and putting your police commissioner in that situation," former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said.
But despite Sharpton's decades of tempestuous relations with the NYPD, Friday night de Blasio said the reverend deserves that seat at the table and made no apologies.
"I don't think it's about any individual personality or the rhetoric of any one leader. It is about a series of substantive changes already underway and that are about to deepen a lot more. I think a lot of people are ready to make this change," de Blasio said.