The media played the day-to-day strategies of the court, its inconsistencies, the play on words, legal analysts read their tea leaves trying to predict what was going to happen but BLACK folk knew what the endgame was going to be, and YET they still Hoped that the Legal System would do the right thing. Black folk knew what the final decision was going to end up being the moment the courts ruled to forgo a jury and have a SINGLE JUDGE make the decision. Common Sense would say that anyone, unarmed and in a closed environment (a car) being shot with 50 bullets, some of which fired haphazardly at innocent bystanders, and others still having bullets lodged in their bodies of the defendants, it would stand to reason that someone would be found guilty of at least the minimum charges. So as a statement of calm, we all sat, and waited and PLANNED until the final conclusion was made.
The Sean Bell case is a clear example of Police Brutality 101 by the NYPD. You could not write a better “script” than this. Without building a coalition, the story itself took on a life and lived in the hearts and minds of all New Yorkers because no one in their right mind could comprehend how 50 bullets were needed to stop three men in a car when all three were innocent. In events past when there were questions about OVER POLICING by the NYPD, sides were drawn, but in the Sean Bell case, people know what sided to be on and the NYPD had very little support. There was no need for massive protests in the streets because the American justice system would rule correctly on this one. The possible reason for lack of overt activism in the beginning may have been the lack of media enticement or lack thereof without Black Community Leaders as a catalyst for fanning the flames and decent as material to work with. Then again, it could have been due to the event’s simplicity. This was an Open and Shit Case. It took very little to keep the importance of Sean Bell’s life out of the media everyday. Sean Bell was what you would call a "Clean Cut Kid" with no record, no violent background, no drug usage, well educated, and a hard working family man. Even with the conscious strategy of having Black Lawyers representing the police officers and their use of the term, "GOOD BLACKS vs. BAD BLACKS" used against Sean Bell and his associates throughout the case, there was a public acknowledgement that the courts were really stretching to find something to justify his murder. Here you had an American, attending a Bachelor Party the day before he was to get married to his wife and begin his family with a child, not having a criminal background and you end up being shot by several police officers because they “thought” they heard he was going to "get a gun". As the lawyers continued to dig deep into the officer’s story, the initial causes for shooting went from "fear of being shot" to "fear of being run over with a car" to the people who were all shot had "criminal affiliations" (Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman) to their stories changed and consistent because they wanted to sue the Police Department and make money from Civil Case. Open and shut case right? Wrong. Somewhere along the line, Sean Bell's Human and and Civil Rights were left at the door and walked over.
The officers; Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were all the central players in this Legal Drama. Marc Cooper, 40, was noted for firing so wildly, that his bullets sprayed into a near by train station, almost hitting an idle standing bystander. Cooper faced charges of reckless endangerment. Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Isnora, 29, faced Manslaughter charges and Assault and Reckless Endangerment with their uncontrolled weapons. In the end, it was Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict, Not Guilty.
When those Words were uttered, the Bell family broke down but they remained strong. Deep down, behind the Hope, they KNEW. They knew that the Police would not get what normal people who murder indiscriminately would get. As things would go, the Bell family would have HOPED to get an apology from the System for their loss and as of the decision, had not. As Black folk, the understanding of bias, double standards, two legal systems, police brutality, over sentencing, under reporting, over policing, militia style policing, creating name and affiliation data bases and profiling is power for the course when living in Inner City New York so HOPE is the ideal word for what Black folk prophetical live by. When Community Leaders put out the message to stand down and allow the System to function without intervention, the tensions had never subsided. Knowing that “if” and “when” THAT decision is made, that ENERGY will be directed not into Destruction BUT into a wave that will flow ALL OVER THE CITY.
"This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over. What we saw in court today was not a miscarriage of justice. Justice didn't miscarry. This was an abortion of justice." --http://video.wnbc.com/player/?id=244770 Rev. Al Sharpton
I sat in the audience, as did the community when Sharpton explained that when a Woman miscarries, medically this means that the body was unable to handle the life that is was given. It means that due to no fault of the Woman or accident, life CANNOT be carried and it fails. When a life is “aborted”, it is a conscious decision, a planned killing, and a methodical step-by-step murder of life. In the case of Sean Bell, from the shooting to the systematic structure of the court to bring about a decision of Not Guilty, their was a premeditated plan for an ABORTION of justice and it should be seen, understood and explained as such.
"Obviously, there are some people who are disappointed with the verdict. ... We don't anticipate violence, but we are prepared for any contingency." http://video.wnbc.com/player/?id=244683-- Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The lack of “expected” criminal and destructive actions has stunned the NYPD and its Legal Community. There were no riots, no fighting in the street, no rocks thrown, cars being turned over, gun shoots in the distance or threats and cursing after the decision. Black folk gathered their anger and their fears tied together by their HOPE and made way to their Churches, Community Groups, Local Organizations, Homes and Schools and coming out with all the RESERVED ENERGY needed to CLEAN HOUSE. This was easy to do because prior to the decision, Black folk in New York prepared and had a "CONTINGENCY" as well. In the past 10 years in New York when citizens thought that the worst the NYPD can do is murder Amadou Diallo, it had gone complacent and bored and decided that 21 shots needed to grow to 36 to 41 to 50 shots. Now New Yorkers know that 50 shots will grow to 60 and into 70 and ultimately into an arsenal of body holes and it needs to stop. But how will Black folk do that? They aren’t telling nor advertising their strategy this time. This lack of knowledge has begun to increase the NYPD and New York City “fear”. This much they all know, Uptown WILL be coming Downtown.
Walking the streets of Harlem and I saw no Beat Walkers. All of the Officers are in Patrol Cars. Driving. Searching. Wondering if and when the time will come and the "explosion" begins. With the weather getting warmer, the children on their Spring Break, what now? No longer comfortable to walk the streets, the command offices now feel that Black folk will became dangerous, uncontrollable and detrimental to their livelihood. Not true, Black folk have decided to change the script.
"Today we're grateful that this court ruled on the evidence presented in this case. But with this case, there's no winners, there's no losers. We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case. ... It's a tragedy for all police officers who have to live with the difficult job we do but nevertheless we're grateful for this outcome." http://video.wnbc.com/player/?id=244688 --Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch.
The comments of Patrick J. Lynch read from the typical and old NYPD script. Translation: “Yeah people got shot, and some N____ got shot too but Shyt happens. You’ll get some money from this but HEY, as Police, we are under a lot of pressure so get off our backs aiight.”
"There are no winners in a trial like this. An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer. Judge Cooperman's responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority. Today's decision is no different. There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse -- those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don't expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it. We have come too far as society -- and as a City -- to be dragged back to those days. http://video.wnbc.com/player/?id=244865 -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Politically and Publicly speaking, the Mayor of New York cannot tarnish the NYPD and yet when this whole incident occurred he did say that the shooting was, “obsessive”. Not the NYPD and it is because of this attitude towards Black life, the people are DONE, no more passes.
"We ask people to be calm as they protest, if that's what they choose to do. ... On the same token, though, we ask police to be calm as people protest. ... We have not heard what these men did that caused police to act as though they were America's most wanted, yet still we hear a verdict of not guilty. We will go to the next level, whatever that might be, to seek justice." -- Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica, Queens, branch of the NAACP.
The role of Youth is heavily highlighted in the movement. The numbers on the streets swelled to a major capacity. This is good for several reasons. Through the marches, the interviews and rallies, the main theme spoken was, "This could be you. This could be Me. This could be your child? Sean Bill is me." for what is it worth, the Mothers and Fathers that broke down in tears and stood tall and shouted know that this is a TRUTH that cannot be ignored. When asked, during Al Sharpton's National Radio Show, how do you think the current political figures running for president should react? It was noted that it was not anyone's place to predict but Black folk will put Hillary Clinton and Governor David Peterson on NOTICE and an active commitment to making this RIGHT will be DEMANDED.
Later, as the groups retired to meet the next day, some of the protesters heard Barak Obama's reaction to the decision, the skepticism and wariness rose to the top with some when Obama said:
After watching Obama's comment, many of the people who left the rally gave pause to the response. After a few minute of dialogue one man's thoughts were this:
"It's in moments like this is why I feel Obama will fall short of addressing Black issues. Sure he may be able to fix the economy, bring back the troops, possibly bring about a solid foundation for jobs in America but for the individual Black person, what do he bring to the table in situations like this besides Hope. I don't want any more Hope, I want justice."
I would have to agree. The response was a bit disconnected, generic and dismissive to the Pain and Hurt that Black and Brown people feel and have felt for years in relation to Police brutality by the NYPD. Like the "bitter" comment that offended the people of Centeral Pennsylvania and Small Town America, the Obama Multiculturalist Philosophy of "let's come together" aren't the words for calm that Black folk want to hear just about now. I mean, how do you tell a HURT PEOPLE to accept a people that greets them with open arms; flowers in one hand and guns and bullets in another?