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Bill de Blasio says he's OK with Al Sharpton's remark about his son

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a roundtable on

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a roundtable on police-community relations with Reverend Al Sharpton on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Credit: Agaton Strom

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that he saw nothing wrong with how the Rev. Al Sharpton invoked his son Dante's name during a City Hall meeting on complaints about NYPD practices, and he defended Sharpton's right to speak out.

"Everyone has a right to speak . . . and he has a right to offer any example he wants," de Blasio told reporters after a Brooklyn event on hurricane preparedness.

Sharpton -- charging black New Yorkers are too often the targets of excessive police force -- told de Blasio on Thursday, "If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold."

The meeting was prompted by the July 17 death of Eric Garner, 43, on Staten Island after a police officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest on a petty charge. Autopsy results announced later Friday found the chokehold was a factor in his death.

After Thursday's meeting with Sharpton, de Blasio said, he spoke with his son about the remarks. "Dante is a sophisticated young man. It doesn't affect him. He has his own life and this is not new to him."

Sharpton, the veteran civil rights activist, had told de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton that they weren't going far enough to overhaul police practices and warned the mayor, "If we are going to just play spin games, I'll be the worst enemy because I am tired of seeing people bury their kin."

The mayor said Friday: "I don't always agree with Rev. Sharpton. But he is a personal friend . . . and I am not afraid of anyone who challenges me."

He again defended Bratton as "the greatest police reformer in this nation" and said the commissioner "is systematically retraining the police department."

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