Posted May 9, 2008 – Wednesday’s massive rally denouncing the acquittal of three NYPD detectives who killed Sean Bell, an unarmed young Black man, was just the beginning, says the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has promised to bring New York to a standstill until justice is served.
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On Thursday, Sharpton, who was arrested along with 215 other activists during his rush-hour traffic-stopping, multi-tiered demonstration, says another protest is just around the corner. The next act of synchronized disobedience will occur within a week to 10 days, according to Charlie King, the acting national director of the Sharpton’s National Action Network.
"Yesterday was the beginning of a long and sustained campaign of civil disobedience," he told reporters.
Last week, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman found that the three detectives who unloaded a 50-bullet barrage at the 23-year-old Bell and his two friends, Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31, were justified in their actions.
Sharpton and other activists are demanding that the federal Justice Department re-investigate the circumstances that led to the shooting by Detectives Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper. The detectives said they believed that Bell and his friends, who were seriously wounded in the November 2006 incident, had a weapon. No weapon was ever found. The three victims were leaving a Queens strip club following a bachelor party. Bell was to be married within hours.
Guzman and Sean Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, who legally acquired Sean Bell’s name after his death, were among those arrested Wednesday as they blocked traffic at the Brooklyn Bridge, the Holland Tunnel and four other major bridges.
Sharpton, Bell ’s parents and Nicole P. Bell reportedly met with Gov. David Paterson Thursday to push for a law that would automatically trigger an independent investigation into police shootings, King said.