Controversial political figure Al Sharpton and his National Action Network (NAN) have announced that they’re organizing a march that will shut down the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge later this month. The march, says Al Sharpton, is to protest the actions of the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the choke-hold killing of Eric Garner.
The date set for Al Sharpton’s march is August 23 at 1 pm local time, and will also be in honor of a boy killed in Brooklyn in 1989 in what became remembered as a race-based slaying.
According to the local CBS 2 in New York, the march across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by Al Sharpton and his followers would effectively shut down the bridge, thus cutting off a vital traffic way and potentially shutting down a large portion of the city. The station quotes U.S. Representative Michael Grimm of New York as saying “Staten Island already bears the burden as the traffic and pothole capital of the country, not to mention having the most exorbitant toll in the nation. To close our only direct passage to the rest of the City on a summer travel weekend is a recipe for total disaster.”
Al Sharpton has close relations with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who many say was elected to office because of the support of Al Sharpton and his followers. An altered identification card has been passed around electronically by police in Staten Island identifying Al Sharpton as the Police Commissioner, reports the New York Daily News. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that the NYPD’s police unions may be taking further measures by instructing officers to “delay” response times and services in protest of the Al Sharpton march and publicity surrounding the death of Garner.
Further lending credence to the de Blasio-Sharpton alliance was the appearance of Al at a round table conference wherein he was invited by the Mayor and was the only non-resident and only civilian on the panel. This scenario made critics of Al Sharpton question the new mayor’s wisdom and resulted in the circulation of the fake ID with Al Sharpton as Police Commissioner.
Legally, in order to cross the bridge, NAN and Al Sharpton would be required to get a permit for the march. This could be the way that the NYPD and others shut down such a march, using public safety as a reason to physically deny the protesters access to Verrazano. This could result in Al Sharpton getting arrested, which would bring its own public relations headaches.