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Black clergy to hold prayer vigil to support de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a news conference regarding two police officers who were killed on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

A black clergy group plans to lead an interfaith prayer vigil Tuesday outside City Hall to ask God to grant Mayor Bill de Blasio strength, wisdom and courage as he confronts attacks from New York City police unions.

Led by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry of Brooklyn's House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, the vigil will follow more than a month of protests against NYPD tactics by people including the mayor's supporters, a union leadership furious at empathy he has voiced with police-abuse critics and a police rank-and-file that has staged a work slowdown.

Mayoral allies such as the Rev. Al Sharpton and Bishop Orlando Findlayter are expected to attend, according to Daughtry, who appeared Saturday at Sharpton's storefront National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.

"We're praying for the mayor and his family that God will give him the strength, the wisdom, the perseverance, the courage that he might lead the city into a new day of peace, justice, good will and prosperity," said Daughtry, who will turn 84 Tuesday. "We all know that he's under severe criticism, particularly from the police, but not only the police."

Hundreds of officers literally turned their backs on de Blasio at funerals for two cops slain by a police-hating gunman. The killer said in social media postings that he wanted to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, unarmed black men who died at the hands of police.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said de Blasio had blood on his hands for remarks that he's coached his biracial son to be cautious around cops.

Daughtry said of Lynch's remarks: "It's the reason that we all need prayer." But Daughtry stressed he wants the vigil to transcend the feud, saying, "We're trying to get above that."

Separately, Sharpton announced his itinerary for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19: vigils where the NYPD says a rookie cop accidentally shot an innocent man, Akai Gurley, in a Brooklyn housing project, followed by a service on the Staten Island sidewalk where an officer used an apparent chokehold on Garner. Beforehand, Sharpton, along with the Garner and Gurley families, will lay a wreath in Brooklyn where the two slain cops, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were gunned down last month.

Findlayter, an organizer of Tuesday's vigil, is the Brooklyn minister who was at the center of a controversy last February over an inquiry de Blasio made to the NYPD while Findlayter, an early endorser of de Blasio who later served on his inaugural committee, was in custody.

Findlayter, detained after a traffic stop on a warrant for missing court over an arrest during a protest, was freed that night. The NYPD said the unusual decision was the precinct commander's call.

With Lisa Irizarry

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