Civil rights leader the Rev. Calvin Butts criticized New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday over the mayor's handling of the recent race protests and police relations.
Appearing on "The Cats Roundtable" on AM 970
in New York, Butts told host John Catsimatidis that de Blasio has rejected his offers to bring local religious and business leaders to meet in City Hall.
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Protests have been ongoing in the city after a Staten Island grand jury in early December declined to indict a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, who died during an arrest over selling untaxed cigarettes. And two NYPD officers were shot to death in their patrol car just before Christmas by a man claiming to be avenging the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
"There needs to be a voice that recognizes the grief on both sides and tries to pull our city together. I did not see – nor do I see now – that the mayor is accomplishing that task," Butts said.
De Blasio must reach out to other black leaders and not simply rely on the Rev. Al Sharpton, he said.
"There is no one person who gives leadership to my community, the African-American community," he said. "Many of them feel as if their voices have not been heard. … I think the mayor has to broaden his audience of advisers and people he talks to. I think it’s too narrow right now."
Butts said he has never had problems meeting with any mayor in the past, including Rudolph Giuliani.
Butts said de Blasio’s behavior is "unbelievable," and that’s one of the reasons it will take a a while "get some sane conversation before we bridge the gap between even the community and the police."
It is wrong, he added, to paint police with a broad brush and insinuate that most officers are racist.
"As much as I’ve criticized bad cops, I have to also say that I tip my hat to the brave men and women who protect my community and all communities in the city," Butts said.
John Catsimatidis interviewed Rev. Calvin Butts on his Sunday radio show – The Cats Roundtable – AM 970 in New York. The longtime pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio over his handling of race and police relations in the aftermath of the Eric Garner grand jury decision and the murder of two NYPD officers. Butts has offered to bring local religious and business leaders to meet in City Hall, however, said Butts, the mayor has been “non-responsive.” He called de Blasio’s behavior “unbelievable” and “incredulous.”
Below is an audio of the interview – along with selected quotes:
Rev. Calvin Butts, http://chirb.it/HHDAPK
Butts on de Blasio’s handling of relations with the black community and the police
Rev. Butts said, “There needs to be a voice that recognizes the grief on both sides and tries to pull our city together. I did not see – nor do I see now – that the mayor is accomplishing that task.”
Butts: de Blasio must broaden advisers beyond people like Al Sharpton
When asked about the close ties between Mayor de Blasio and Al Sharpton, Butts said, “There is no one person who gives leadership to my community, the African-American community … Many of them feel as if their voices have not been heard. I think this is one of the problems … I think the mayor has to broaden his audience of advisers and people he talks to. I think it’s too narrow right now.”
Butts: I offered to meet, but de Blasio is “non-responsive”
Butts said he has “provided an opportunity for the mayor to sit down with some leading clergy [and business leaders] … I was shocked that we haven’t received an OK on the meeting … For the Administration to be slow dragging its feet, non-responsive to meeting with business leaders, to me is incredulous.”
Butts: I’ve never had difficulty meeting with any mayor in the past – even Giuliani
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