Tennis Star James Blake Meets With Bill de Blasio, Bill Bratton to Discuss Police Reform

James Blake arrives to city hall in New York on Monday for a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner William Bratton. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

James Blake arrives to city hall in New York on Monday for a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner William Bratton. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who the retired tennis star James Blake said had been cooperative and sympathetic to his calls for police reform during their meeting on Monday, returned the compliment on Tuesday, praising Mr. Blake for looking to spur change in the aftermath of his mistaken arrest.

But the mayor also declined to commit to further punishment for the officer who tackled Mr. Blake, or to pursuing policy changes that Mr. Blake has pushed for since he was mistaken for a suspect and thrown to the ground outside a Midtown Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9.

Mr. Blake met with Mr. de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton at City Hall on Monday to discuss steps the city could undertake to curb the kind of rough treatment he faced.

In an interview on CNN on Tuesday morning, Mr. de Blasio said Mr. Blake had handled an “unfortunate situation” with “a certain selflessness.”

“He has not made it about him,” the mayor said. “He’s talked about where we need to go as a society to a better place, and I admire him for that.” The mayor said that when he watched the video of the officer and Mr. Blake, he thought, “You look at it and say, that just wasn’t the right way to do things.”

The meeting on Monday was a sign of how Mr. Blake’s star power and the rough treatment he faced have quickly made him an influential voice for reform amid a national reckoning with police misconduct. The arrest prompted swift apologies from Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bratton, and drew renewed attention to the aggressive arrest tactics that many black New Yorkers say they face frequently, with little hope of winning an audience with the mayor.

Referring to Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Blake said after the meeting that he was encouraged by “the fact that he can look me in the eye and tell me that he is on our side, and that he is looking to make a long-lasting impact.”

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SOURCE: The New York Times
Benjamin Mueller and Michael M. Grynbaum