NY police promise to rebuild trust as protests continue

Tue Dec 9, 2014 4:17pm EST
 
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By Noel Randewich and Scott Malone

BERKELEY, Calif./NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the New York Police Department vowed on Tuesday to repair relations with poor and minority communities following the death of a suspect, even as protests over police violence flared across the United States.

The department will retrain its members in nonviolent ways of making arrests, Police Commissioner William Bratton said, adding that he had taken a non-confrontational approach to protests over a grand jury's decision not to charge the officer involved in the controversial chokehold case.

Protests over that decision and a finding from a Missouri grand jury that a white police officer did not break the law when he fatally shot an unarmed black teenager have spread across the United States.

On a day when New York police officers shot and killed a man who stabbed a rabbinical student from Israel in a Brooklyn synagogue - a shooting Bratton said appeared justified - the commissioner admitted relations between his department and some communities were poor.

"The reality is that there is a divide between the police and some people in communities that need us most, but that divide can be bridged," Bratton told a New York business group. "The reality is that the people and the police can be partners."

More than 150 protesters were arrested around Berkeley, California, overnight after shutting down a major freeway and throwing rocks at police.

The death in New York of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, and the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, of Michael Brown, have highlighted strained relations between police and black Americans and rekindled a national debate over race relations.

The National Basketball Association said on Tuesday it would take no action against players, including LeBron James, who wore T-shirts at a game in New York on Monday night bearing the phrase "I Can't Breathe," a reference to Garner's last words in a widely viewed video of his death.   Continued...

 
Police officers with the Berkeley Police Department clash with protesters during a march against the New York City grand jury decision to not indict in the death of Eric Garner in Berkeley, California December 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Stephen Lam