New NAACP president speaks out about Eric Garner case

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The relationship between blacks and the police is a long standing source of on-again, off-again tension and controversy.

The new president of the NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, is talking about the latest controversies involving cops.

From Eric Garner's death to federal oversight of Newark Police, law enforcement controversies have dominated headlines in the tri-state for weeks.

And Thursday, in his first TV interview with New York media, the new head of the NAACP, a lawyer from Newark, is making it clear where he stands and hoping that from all of these messes, progress can emerge.

"If one looks at the history books and looks at the fear that people felt in terms of being subjected to lynchings 100 years ago and look at the fear that many young people feel today in terms of being subjected to racialized violence, I think there's a rough analogy there," said Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO.

He is just a month into his tenure as the 18th president of the NAACP, and Cornell William Brooks already finds himself in the middle of the national controversy over Eric Garner's death from an apparent police chokehold.

"To see this vignette of brutality on YouTube was a surreal experience," Brooks said.

Brooks, a 53-year-old lawyer and minister who has lived in Newark for nearly 7 years, met with Police Commissioner William Bratton just Wednesday, as the investigation continues into how and why Garner died and what changes police need to make when it comes to using force. Criminal justice reform is one of his life's passions.

"It does call for an explanation, full investigation, and an accounting," Brooks said.

In his first TV interview with New York City media, Brooks also delved into the turmoil at the Newark Police Department. The agency will soon be put under federal oversight for a long list of civil rights abuses and use of excessive force. He says the federal intervention is not a black eye, but rather an opportunity.

"If monitoring helps the City of Newark take a hard look at how to protect people, encourage a culture of public safety, and public accountability within the police department, why again would that be a bad thing?"

The married father of two teenage sons also applauded Mayor de Blasio's efforts to end the NYPD's highly controversial "Stop-and-Frisk" policy, which he says unfairly makes all city residents automatic suspects.

"I would liken it to the use of heavy duty chemotherapy and radiation where the patient doesn't have cancer," Brooks said.

When it comes to the Eric Garner case, Brooks says he believes the investigation is headed in the right direction and that city officials seem "genuinely committed" to finding answers and taking action.

Brooks also spoke out on several national issues in the interview:
Related Topics:
politicsAfrican AmericansNAACPnewarkeric garnerpolice brutality
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