New York protests against police killing of Sean Bell

This video from the USA is called Sean Bell Protest Rally May 7, 2008

Report by Noha Arafa, Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325 in New York City in the USA:

NYC Police Abuse Protests

Yesterday, at least one thousand people protested around the city against the acquittal of police officers who killed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets in 2006. Two hundred and sixteen protesters were arrested in peaceful civil disobedience.

In Brooklyn Rev. Herbert Daughtry and City Councilmember Charles Barron led 300-400 protesters, who blocked traffic at the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the BQE. Forty protesters were arrested, including several elderly ladies. After the arrests, some Brooklyn protesters joined others for a rally at NYPD Headquarters, awaiting the release of all those arrested.

It was particularly moving to see how protesters remain galvanized by the need to speak out. Civil disobedience will continue every Wednesday, escalating toward a citywide shutdown.

Legal Aid participants in protests around the city included Antonia Codling (CDD-Bronx); Mimi Rosenberg (Civil-Brooklyn), one of the Brooklyn arrestees; Lucy Herschel (CDD-Queens); and Michael Letwin, Charles Billups and Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn).

Members of SEIU and others unions also protested at one of the Manhattan sites.

At 7 p.m. tonight, there is a citywide strategy meeting about upcoming at the House of the Lord Church, Atlantic Ave. (at Hoyt Street), Brooklyn. Further information will be forthcoming.

Below are selected reports of yesterday’s protest and the Sean Bell case.

No Justice — No Peace.
We will not be silent until justice is achieved.

“We’ll do this 365 days a year if we have to.” – Sean Bell’s friend, Joseph Guzman, injured in the November 2006 shooting.

Selected Reports

Speaking after his release Wednesday night, Sharpton said, “I think this dispels the myth that people are not interested. I think a real statement was made,” he added of the protests. “We’re very proud of it”. . . .

Seeing Wednesday’s turnout — “all the support and everyone by my side saying Sean’s name — It feels good,” said Paultre Bell.

Bell’s friend Joseph Guzman, injured in the November 2006 shooting said: “We’ll do this 365 days a year if we have to”. . . .

“The system can not go on as usual,” said Mimi Rosenburg, 55, a lawyer from Bay Ridge, who sat by a road near the Brooklyn Bridge and waited to be arrested. “There needs to be justice for Sean Bell. I think civil disobedience is necessary.”

Here are pictures from the action that began at Varick & Houston Streets, marched slowly for a half mile along a route that was not disclosed in advance to those gathered, and stopped to block two adjacent intersections at Hudson & Canal, resulting in nearly two dozen arrests. Representing in colors were the NAACP and SEIU.

Protesters participated in spirited chants of “We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell!” and “No justice, no peace! Fire racist police!”

“We aren’t going to let our people get slaughtered,” said activist and organizer Amos Hughes. “People can say we need to respect the verdict, but I say we don’t have democracy.” He added, “Black people don’t have rights–only the right to remain silent”. . . .

Cory Wise, a wrongly accused and exonerated defendant in the Central Park jogger case in the 1990s, was among those arrested. Moments before his arrest, he said, “I was in a situation like this with the police. So right now, I call myself a freedom fighter.”

Source: here

Nearly 60% of voters disagree with the “not guilty” verdict, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Just over a third of white voters oppose the verdict, compared with 89% of black voters, and 71% of Hispanic voters. . . . “There is a substantial racial divide in New York City on the Sean Bell case and the broader issues of police conduct,” Quinnipiac Polling Institute director Maurice Carroll said in a statement.

Source: here

During the last two years the NYPD reported the race of those shot by police, nearly 90 percent of the people shot at by officers were black or Latino. In 1998 the Department stopped reporting the race of civilian targets and started reporting the breed of dogs being shot.

Source: here

Photos, Audio and Video:

and here

and here

and here

Mildred Loving, US civil rights-era pioneer, dies at 68: here.

The Manhattan Bridge opened on December 31, 1909 in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan at Canal Street to Brooklyn over a span of 1,470 feet (448 meters): here.

6 thoughts on “New York protests against police killing of Sean Bell


    May 8, 2008
    He Could Have Been Your
    Son Marching for Sean Bell

    The mood was far from somber at House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where the 78-year-old Reverend Herbert Daughtry briefed a standing room only crowd on the ins and outs of civil disobedience. We will submit to arrest he said. What we want to achieve is immobility. A woman near the front asked how long those arrested would be in jail. “As long as the police keep you there,” a man shouted from the back.

    The dimly lit room was lined with banners. Free Mandela. Coalition in solidarity with the people of Darfur. The crowd was older. There were many t-shirts with pictures of Malcom X, MLK, and Elijah Muhammad. One read, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” Outside a bald man with a bullhorn approached a gentleman selling Sean Bell buttons. He wanted to know where the money was going. “All our heroes are being sold now,” he said. I thought about the question of heroes. Perhaps we have none or they are dead.

    Sean Bell is an unlikely hero and he is the reason why the crowd of mostly black men and women has gathered here at House of the Lord Church on the corner of Atlantic and Bond. Nearly two weeks ago, the three police officers who killed Bell and wounded two of his friends as they were leaving a nightclub in Queens were acquitted. The officers fired 50 shots, a number that could be seen on many of the makeshift posters carried by protesters, and that would become a refrain as the crowd marched through downtown Brooklyn. 1, 2, 3–

    Reverend Daughtry–after announcing that there would be a meeting tomorrow night to evaluate today’s action–turns the floor over to councilman Charles Barron who represents district 42, which includes parts of East New York, Brownsville, East Flatbush, and Canarsie. Barron says, “I didn’t come to talk. I’m ready to rumble.”

    The crowd slowly leaves the church and the sidewalk is already filled with sign carriers, and cameramen, shop owners, and police officers. I’m standing next to a middle aged woman who says she marched when Diallo was shot and when Rodney King was beaten and that she’s out here because this could happen to my son, a phrase I hear again and again. He could have been my son.

    Most have left work early to be here. The sun is out and we begin to walk down Atlantic, the crowd taking on its own shape. It is noisy and the chanting never stops. If it does subside, the count to 50 begins again. The occasional driver moving in the opposite direction honks or raises his fist in solidarity. I see far up ahead a police van with flashing lights and realize that we are more or less being led or directed by the NYPD. Even when we’re in the streets, they control them. There are helicopters circling above. Cameras everywhere.

    We turn right on Boerum place and pass the New York City College of Technology. We’re downtown now and the streets are crowded. The honking more persistent. We stop not far from the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. Traffic is stopped in both directions and people are getting out of their cars. I’m thankful it’s not yet summer and the breeze is still cool. I think this is where the arrest will take place, as if on a stage, but would prefer if we continued to march.

    Then suddenly the organizers shift the direction of the crowd away from the bridge and back onto Tillary and Brooklyn Bridge Blvd. It seems to catch the police officers off guard as the spry pastor and Charles Barron march in lockstep toward the entrance to the BQE. The officers are running now to catch up carrying a bright orange fence and white plastic cuffs. There are marchers weaving in and out of traffic. Mounted police officers take up a flank on the far side and the chanting continues. There are kids playing basketball behind a tall fence who have stopped to watch; a crowd of teenagers outside of George Westinghouse Voc & Tech High School; a young bus driver stalled in traffic honking his horn so emphatically that all of the passengers have risen to their feet. No one seems to mind much that they aren’t going anywhere. School is out and the workday is over. A kind of immobility has been achieved.

    We turn near the entrance to the BQE and approach the Manhattan Bridge. Here the Reverend and Charles Barron and others are arrested. It’s nearly impossible to see as a swarm of cameras and reporters have descended upon them. As I walk away toward the train I see a very old black woman with a walker greeting an old acquaintance. They wouldn’t let me be arrested she says.


  2. SUPPORT – Sean Bell Arrestees

    Send a message of “NOT Guilty” to Judge Larry Stephen
    Act NOW!

    Your message will also go to the media so that they cannot ignore continued police violence in NYC.

    Click the link below to send a message directly to presiding Judge Larry Stephen, Mayor Bloomberg, Gov Paterson, Senators Clinton and Schumer, the New York State Legislature, and members of the media!

    Sentencing is 2:15pm – Wed, Oct 8, 2008
    100 Center Street, 4th Floor, Jury 2 & C,
    If you are in NYC make every effort to attend the sentencing.

    Call for a “Not Guilty” verdict

    It is outrageous that the police who killed Sean Bell with 50 bullets on Nov 25, 2006 – the morning of his wedding and wounded Trent Benafield and Joseph Guzman can be found “Not Guilty” of any charge in NYC Criminal Courts. Yet those who responded to the verdict in wholly justified protests may be found “Guilty”.

    It is a crime that the NYC District Attorney’s office has continued with this outrageous prosecution.

    The arrestees do not deny that they took part in the May 7 well organized, orderly and cohesive civil disobedience protests to raise an urgent life and death issue. This is an issue of deep concern to millions of people nationally who are outraged at unrestrained, unpunished, continuing police violence.

    A “Not Guilty” verdict is the only acceptable ending to these charges on civil rights activists.

    Many hundreds of people blocked evening rush hour traffic at bridges and tunnels including the Triboro, Brooklyn, Queensboro and Manhattan Bridges and the Holland and Midtown Tunnels. Many Thousands of others surrounded them, supporting their justified action

    The organized protest followed the outrageous “Not Guilty” verdict for the police who killed Sean Bell. Anger was enormous at the unchecked racist police violence in Black and Latino communities of NYC.

    More than 250 people were arrested at the May 7 protest. Charges were quickly dropped on the overwhelming majority of arrestees.

    However for 7 participants facing sentencing on Wednesday, October 8th , charges were not dropped. Those facing sentencing include Rev Al Sharpton – a key organizer of the May 7th civil disobedience action – and a handful of others who have participated in civil disobedience actions in the past. Once charged, these defendants refused to plead ‘guilty’ to any charges stemming from their justified protests while police who commit murder with 50 bullets are found ‘not guilty’.

    International Action Center activists took part in the Civil Disobedience mass actions at several locations in Manhattan and Sara Flounders, Co-Director of the International Action Center is also one of the defendants due to be sentenced on Wednesday afternoon.

    The other defendants are: Anthony Estes, formerly a victim of a brutal police attack, James Patnaude, Donna Gould, Manijeh Saba and Felton Davis.

    At their trial of October 6th Attorneys Michael Hardy and Wylie Stecklow attempted to raise an important political defense of “justified necessity”. The actions against continuing police killings were justified and necessary. In summary: the participants acted because there were no adequate legal means to avoid this harm, and they acted to avoid grave harm not of their own making and to avert an impending danger of more police killings.

    Judge Larry Stephen, formerly of the NYC District Attorney office, refused to allow this defense of “justified necessity” to be introduced. He limited the testimony to police descriptions of the street arrests.

    Support these justified actions to protest a racist, violent police and court system. Fill the NY Criminal Court 100 Center Street, Jury 2 & C
    Wednesday at 2:15pm.
    Sign the message to Judge Larry Stephen.

    The text of the online petition message follows:

    PETITION TO JUDGE LARRY STEPHEN, with copies to Governor Paterson, Senators Clinton and Schumer, Mayor Bloomberg, the New York Legislature and members of the media:

    Dear Judge Larry Stephen,
    I am deeply concerned with the continuing police violence against unarmed and defenseless people in NYC, especially in communities of color.

    I am even more concerned that this uncontrolled police violence has no form of redress. Every parent worries for the safety of their children. The danger is imminent and all pervasive, yet it is systematically ignored.

    The police must be held accountable to the community for their conduct.

    Again and again in mass demonstrations, protests and gatherings concerned people in New York City and nationally have voiced their protests.

    The well organized civil disobedience actions held on May 7, 2008 spoke to the concerns of millions of people all across the U.S.

    There seems to be no other forum left to address these justified grievances.

    I urge you to find the defendants before your court today ‘Not Guilty” of the frivolous charges against them. They acted, with great seriousness and commitment, to bring this emergency to national attention.

    They have the support of many tens of thousands of other concerned and determined people.

    It would be a grievous miscarriage of justice and a serious misuse of the courts for these defendants to be found guilty of ANY charge while NYC police are found “Not Guilty” of all charges.

    We urge you to act in a way that sends a message to NYC that this serious problem must be addressed



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