Church Meets State: De Blasio and Faith Leaders Powwow on NYPD Issues

New York's Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan hosted a closed-door meeting Wednesday with more than a dozen faith leaders from across the city, plus the mayor, the police commissioner and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

There were Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders at the meeting and only one woman: First Lady Chirlane McCray.

“We’ve experienced a tragedy with the death of Eric Garner,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, but he added that the meeting was not about just that incident. “This is about a very purposeful and consistent effort forward.”

The specific actions coming out of the meeting were tough to nail down. There was talk of healing, reconciliation and opportunities for faith communities to invite law enforcement officers to their houses of worship to say thank you.

Organizers said the event was planned shortly after Garner’s death – and before the violent protests had erupted on the streets of Ferguson, MO, where an unarmed man was killed by police. But Sharpton, who recently returned from there, drew a comparison to New York.

“When I flew back the other day, I thought about how different it was, that we are going to sit in the Cardinal's residence, than what I saw on the streets of Ferguson,” said Sharpton.

Calling it a “defining moment for the country,” Sharpton and three other faith leaders from the meeting plan to march against police brutality on Staten Island Saturday. De Blasio said any acts of violence by the protesters or the NYPD will not be tolerated.