Sean Bell: Will Anger Bring Change?

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[Commentary] Starting today, Sean Bell's family will start a vigil lasting 50 days outside a police precinct. It is one of several events following Bell’s killing.

Bell, an innocent 23-year old Black man, died November 25, hours before he was to get married when New York undercover police fired at least 50 bullets into a vehicle he was in, wounding two of his friends. They had come from a nightclub celebrating Bell’s last night as a bachelor.

Family and friends will rotate during the 24-hour a day daily vigil. The length of the vigil corresponds with the number of bullets fired by the undercover police.

The Bell family has said it wants a special prosecutor on the case. One newspaper reported that a grand jury would soon weigh evidence against the officers who fired at Bell and his friends to consider criminal indictment.

The anger created because of Bell’s death could spur changes. If it were not for outrage at injustices that pushed great past Black leaders such as Huey Newton, Bobby Seal, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. into action, who knows where we would be today?

How would the public react, should the officers not be indicted? Judging by the level of anger at a recent rally I covered, public reaction –should officer not be indicted – could be powerful, if not deadly.

More than 500 people showed up on the Wall Street area last month to protest the murder of Bell. At the march, which was organized by the December 12th Movement and Black Men’s Movement, some of the protestors held signs that read: “Number One Enemy: NYPD” and “Killers Must Go to Jail.” People of all different races, ethnicities, and ages gathered for “Day of Outrage,” as the protest was billed.

At one point, there was an argument between the organizers and the Police over the route of the march. It was deliberately set in the money churning capital of the world—Wall Street, near such institutions like the American Stock Exchange. The onlookers were mostly men in business suits. NYPD Officers patrolling the streets were fed a steady diet of insults. Marchers I spoke with could not contain their outrage.

“The only color America understands is green,” Brenda Morgan, 51, told me. “This is where the money is at; we got to hit them at the root.” Another marcher, who chose not to reveal her name, voiced her support. “I’m missing work for this but I don’t care,” she confided. “I’m going to march in every protest.”

Yet another marcher, Sia Mensah, a junior at Hampton University, said the Bell shooting “illuminates that fascism is still a reality.”

One woman’s sign simply read: “50 SHOTS.”

“50 shots?” she asked, aloud. “I have a child, I’m about to start crying.”

Pearson, who attends Syracuse University, is a reporting intern at The Black Star News.

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