By Sandy English:
Thousands march in New York to protest police killing
19 December 2006
Thousands of people marched down New York’s Fifth Avenue and across 34th Street on Saturday, nine days before Christmas and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, to protest the police murder of Sean Bell and the serious wounding of two others in the borough of Queens on November 25.
The turnout for what was billed as a silent protest clearly exceeded the expectations of the police, who had set aside barricades to confine the marchers to one traffic lane.
The throng quickly took over nearly the entire width of both Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, passing upscale stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, along with St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, ending outside of Macy’s.
Democratic Party politician Al Sharpton led the march, walking beside Nicole Paultre-Bell, who has legally adopted the name of her fiancé and the father of their two children.
Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant who was brutally sodomized in a Brooklyn police station house nine years ago, was also present, as were Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which endorsed the protest; Roger Toussaint, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100; NAACP officials; singer Harry Belafonte [see also here]; and some prominent Democrats, including longtime Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel.
Bell was killed when six undercover cops fired 50 bullets at his car just as he was leaving his bachelor party at Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens.
Bell was to be married later that day.
Wounded in the shooting were his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield.
The three men were unarmed and guilty of nothing other than being in the wrong place at a time when police were conducting an undercover investigation.
Benefield came to Saturday’s march in a wheelchair, while Guzman remains in the hospital.
Update March 2007: here.
Other police killings in the USA: here.
Frame-up of Gary Tyler: here.
Death of Fermin Arzu, May 2007: here.
3 Detectives in Bell Shooting Acquitted
Three detectives were found not guilty Friday morning on all charges in the November, 2006, shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens.
Sounding the Bell for Justice: Hundreds converge to protest unjust acquittal [With Photos]
On Friday, April 25th, hundreds of outraged protesters converged at the Queens County District Attorney’s office in Kew Gardens, Queens to protest the acquittal of police officers responsible for Sean Bell’s death. From there they walked several miles past Queens Boulevard to the heart of Jamaica, where the shooting took place.
Justice for Sean Bell
Sean Bell joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted — let alone convicted — for their crimes.
Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a “few bad apples” in the NYPD. Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that — as a matter of deliberate policy — systematically targets communities of color for search-and-destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.
Nicole Paultre Bell on Sean Bell verdict: ‘They killed Sean all over again’
“Every march, every rally, I’m going to be right up front,” Paultre Bell said, breaking her silence for the first time since the cops were cleared Friday.
“The justice system let me down,” Paultre Bell said, her voice strong, her message clear. “They killed Sean all over again. That’s what it felt like to us.”
Bell’s Family and Friends, With Rising Anger, Say Fight Is ‘Far From Over’
William Bell showed the most frustration. At one point, while everyone stood and chanted, he sat stiff-jawed in his seat, his elbows on his knees and his fingers interlocking. Later, he stepped to the microphone and said, “Is this 1955 Alabama?”
In the Sean Bell case, it was the gang that couldn’t prosecute straight
No matter what Justice Arthur Cooperman’s verdict in the Sean Bell trial is Friday, court watchers will remember the prosecution of this case as one of the strangest ever. . . . “Even if Cooperman finds the cops guilty, I just wish the Queens DA would prosecute all its cases like this one,” Murphy said. “In front of a jury, it would be a defense lawyer’s dream.”`
In Bell Case, Black New Yorkers See Nuances That Temper Rage
“My mother always has to look outside her window and worry about us because of the cops,” said Ray Powell, 23, a Queensborough Community College student who was at the memorial on Friday. “If it was me, if I shot a gun 30 times, I would get the death penalty.”
And even those who noted that two of the officers involved in the Bell shooting were black said their race was less important than their badges. “Some would argue that these were not black cops,” said Kaleem Musa Keita, 49, who was outside the courthouse in Queens when the verdict was announced. “They’re black in color, but they didn’t represent their community. They were representing the police.”
Rev. Al: Freeing Bell cops would be verdict worthy of Old South
“If we say Friday that people’s attitude gets them shot by police, are we going to say next that it’s all right for people to assault women because they look like that’s what they wanted?” Sharpton asked.
Martin made the remark during his closing argument in the case against three NYPD detectives. Guzman was the person who “had the attitude to go get a gun and come back and use it,” Martin said.
Guzman has denied threatening anyone with a gun, and Sharpton was outraged by the argument. “This smacks of Emmett Till – of reckless eyeballing,” the civil rights activist said.
Till, 14, was murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman in 1955. His killers were acquitted.
Obama “Respects” Verdict
“The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down,” he said in response to a question at a gas station in Indianapolis, where he was holding a news conference. . . . The verdict, which has touched off a storm of protest in New York, arrives at a delicate time in the campaign for Obama. After his loss to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania primary, some Democrats are quietly worrying whether Obama’s difficulty in winning over working-class white voters could pose a problem for the party if he is the nominee.
Some notable shootings involving New York police officers
Some fatal shootings of black men over the past decade involving New York City police officers.
Rev. Al Sharpton To Lead Citywide “Slowdown” And “Pray In” On Wednesday To Lead Up To The Citywide Shut Down Later This Spring
Monday, May 5, 2008 (New York, NY) — Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, will lead a citywide “pray-in” on Wednesday, May, 7th at six locations around New York City to lead up to an eventual citywide shut down this Spring. Joining Rev. Sharpton in civil disobedience will be Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman, Trent Benefield and other community and religious leaders to call upon the United States Department of Justice to intervene in the case.
According to Rev. Sharpton, participants in Wednesday’s “pray-ins” at six locations across the city should be prepared to go to jail to protest the acquittals of the three detectives. “If you are not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you’ll have to lock up the innocent,” says Rev. Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton said protesters at each location would get down on their knees in prayer. He said he hopes the acts of civil disobedience will continue until an eventual citywide day to shutdown NYC later this Spring. Also in follow-up to several misleading reports that have compared the acts of civil disobedience around the Amadou Diallo case with the Sean Bell case: in the Diallo case, Rev. Sharpton and others engaged in 13-days of civil disobedience at One Police Plaza which led to indictments. There were no acts of civil disobedience after the acquittals. In the Sean Bell case, Rev. Sharpton organized 50,000 people to march with National Action Network down Fifth Aveue in New York City which far exceeded any protest acts conducted during the Amadou Diallo case.
The 3:00 p.m. Gathering Points for the May 7th Citywide Slowdown and Pray-Ins:
Site A: 125th and Third Avenue (led by W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman of National Action Network)
Site B: Third Avenue and 60th Street (Led by National Action Network senior staff)
Site C: 34th and Park Avenue (Led by National Action Network Senior Staff)
Site D: Varick and Houston Street (Led by Hazel Dukes, NAACP and Labor leaders)
Site E: One Police Plaza (Led by Rev. Al Sharpton. Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield will be at this location)
Site F: House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, New York (Led by Rev. Herbert Daughtry)
Justice for Sean Bell
By Fifty-Two Legal Aid Society Staff Members
(March 26, 2007)
The undersigned New York City Legal Aid attorneys and support staff believe that the indictment of three police officers, for the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets, is too little and too late.
Sean Bell joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted–let alone convicted–for their crimes.
Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a “few bad apples” in the NYPD. Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that–as a matter of deliberate policy–systematically targets communities of color for search-and-destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.
Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, there has been an explosion in the number of racially-discriminatory stop-and-frisks. The vast majority of these do not result in an arrest, and most that do are for such charges as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, open alcohol containers, walking between subway cars, and marijuana possession.
These illegal stops generate criminal records for hundreds of thousands of people of color, and are often accompanied by false accusations, physical threats, beatings, torture, or worse.
Such injustices cannot be ended by tinkering with existing policies. Genuine solutions must include:
1. Firing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
2. Vigorous prosecution, by a special prosecutor, of police officers–especially commanders–who commit or condone the crimes described above.
3. An end to militarized police operations against young people of color.
Signers (Affiliations listed for identification only)
Charles Billups, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn; Chairperson, The Grand Council of Guardians * Antonia Codling, Criminal Defense Division-Bronx; Affirmative Action Representative, ALAA/UAW Local 2325 * Lucy Herschel, Criminal Appeals Bureau; Delegate, 1199/SEIU * Julie Fry, Alternate Vice President, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Michael Letwin, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn; Former President, ALAA/UAW Local 2325 * Susan Olivia Morris, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn; Former Sgt.-at-Arms, ALAA/UAW Local 2325 * Magda Rosa-Rios, Alternate Vice-President, Harlem Community Law Office; ALAA/UAW Local 2325; Azalia Torres, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn; Former Sr. Attorney & Attorneys of Color (ACLA) Representative, ALAA/UAW Local 2325 * Bahar Ansari, Juvenile Rights Division-Bronx * Rigodis Appling; Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan * Noha Arafa, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Chennette X. Barreto, Shared Serices * Marisa Benton, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Abby Biberman, Civil Division * Norah Bowler, Juvenile Rights Division-Queens * Kamber L. Brisbane, Harlem Community Law Office * Jennifer Burkavage, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Cynthia Colt, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Laurie Dick, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Femi B. Disu, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Monica D. Dula, Criminal Defense Division-Bronx * Kimberly Forte, Juvenile Rights Division-Manhattan * Keisha A. Godfrey, Criminal Defense Division-Queens * Bridgette Holloman, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Allison Jordan, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Emily Kane, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Benjamin Kanstroom, Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan * Rebecca Kurti, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Patrick Langhenry, Civil Division-Brooklyn * Adrian Lesher, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Melissa Loehr, Criminal Defense Division-Bronx * Beth Lyons, Criminal AppealsBureau * Dianna Lysius, Accounting * Christopher Madiou, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Titus Mathai, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Joyce Murphy, Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan * Elizabeth Newton, Criminal Defense Division-Queens * David Ocasio, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Ivan Pantoja, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Karena Rahall, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Hara Robrish, Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan * Jacob Rolls, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Mimi Rosenberg, Civil Division-Brooklyn * Gerard Savage, Criminal Defense Division-Queens * Samantha Seda, Criminal Defense Division-Queens * Kawan L. Simmons, Criminal Defense Division-Bronx * Shana Skaletsky, Criminal Defense Division-Bronx * Brian Slater, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Steven Terry, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Rebecca Turner, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Dawn Yuster, Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn * Sunita Patel, Civil Division, Immigration Unit
Police Violence & Abuse
Delegate Council, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325
(March 22, 2000)
In response to the systemic police abuse that plagues New York City, of which “Condor” is a prominent example, ALAA reaffirms its support for far-reaching reform, including the immediate:
*Abolition of the Street Crime Unit, “Operation Condor,” and all similar “search and destroy,” body count, and arrest quota units;
*Dismissal of Police Commissioner Howard Safir;
*Permanent federal monitoring of the NYPD, and implementation of such long overdue reforms as police residency requirements and abolition of the 48-hour rule;
*Federal prosecution of the police officers responsible for the murders of Amadou Diallo, Malcolm Ferguson, Patrick Dorismond, and others;
*Prosecution of each City official who illegally released sealed records of former Legal Aid Society client Patrick Dorismond;
*Establishment of an independent state agency to aggressively prosecute future police violence and abuse; and
*End to the “War on Drugs,” including the Draconian Rockefeller sentencing laws, which only serves to promote violent crime, police brutality, and mass criminalization, particularly against communities of color.
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