Sean Bell Bulletin: Report on Yesterday’s Protests
“All the support and everyone by my side saying Sean’s name — It feels good.” –Paultre Bell, Sean’s Widow
By Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn)
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.
Attached (below) is a poster from yesterday’s demonstration that reads “We Are All Sean Bell — This Whole Damn System is Guilty.” Please put them up in your office and forward widely to others.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Photos, Audio and Video: