Revolution #75, January 7, 2007
Outrage Over the NYPD Murder of Sean Bell: Our Readers Speak Out
Revolution received an unusual number of responses to the articles about the rampage of police murder in the last month and we are reprinting some below.
My condolences go out to Sean Bell’s family and also the other two gentlemen who barely escaped from it all. You know I refuse to keep sitting back listening, looking at what is going on in the world with our people… Who in their right mind would keep ignoring this and continue to let this go on. We had this issue before with the police, and it happened sadly to Sean Bell, like he wasn’t nothing. He was somebody’s son, he was a little girl's father, and almost someone’s husband. Bottom line he had family. Really… I’m now starting to think we are “their targets” especially our black males.
I must say that this is yet another disturbing case of police brutality. It is not fair and it sends really bad messages to everyone. I wish that this system would stop trying to protect these officers. Emotions are so high that people are on edge. Case in point, I was harassed three different times by the NYPD. I am totally legal, very well educated and I have no prior record, the police are trying to intimidate people of color. I will not be intimidated. My father is an officer in Michigan and he doesn’t act like this. What is really going on? The thought is scary and the truth is even scarier.
Well I want to send strength to Sean Bell’s kids and family. As these days go by let us not forget that the police did not care that Sean Bell had a family and a bride-to-be waiting for him. I want justice to be made for the Bell family and justice for his baby girls.
I feel more pain for Sean Bell’s daughters, they will never be able to do anything with their father or even wish him a happy Father’s Day. For the rest of their lives they will have to wonder what kind of father he would have been to those beautiful girls. For the rest of their lives they have to decide should they trust police or will they kill them the way they killed their father…
That club has been a constant problem; therefore, an investigation was started. It went terribly wrong. I believe it happened so fast both Bell and the police officer felt there lives were in jeopardy. On the one hand, I cannot imagine being in the shoes of someone that feels their life may be in jeopardy. Fear will make you react in ways you would, otherwise, never consider. What would you do to protect your life? What if you had access to a weapon? On the other hand, the amount of shots is not at all justified…
I am outraged by this terrible act of violence that has once again taken place to a minority. Here is a man who obviously had his future ahead of him, wedding just hours away and was killed, for what? Do we have a charge? Of course not. This is just another cruel reminder of the harsh world we are living in. To protect and to serve right??
I agree that the Sean Bell incident can be seen as a very excessive use of police force. However I greatly dislike how your articles are condemning police as the "KKK." This was a horrible event, but what you don't hear about are the dozens upon dozens of black men that are arrested daily, without incident, for crimes they are guilty of committing. The nature and sheer volume of crime the police deal with daily almost insures that events like this will occur every now and then. The truth of what happened that night lies somewhere between the eyewitness accounts and the police accounts.
I think that excessive force was used and there was a better way for trained officers to handle the situation, but we as blacks especially young black males have to understand that we are already targets and that simple action is best. The officers bare some responsibility as it is their job to protect and serve but the young men aren't totally innocent where they were involved in an altercation.
To hell with the NYPD. I am a criminology major at the present time and I think that police are handed too much power to begin with… [This] gives them a greater chance to abuse it. To the family, you are in my prayers. On the other hand sue for wrongful death. At one point in my life I wanted to be an officer of the law… Not anymore.
What you people are doing is brave. The type of individual that elects to be a police officer ranges from violent bully at best and racist murderer at worst. Please know that your efforts to publicize the crimes of these fascist intruders do not fall on deaf ears. Thank you.
My cousin and I were sitting at the table having breakfast while reading the newspaper. I looked up at her with confusion as I read about the incident in USA Today. I am truly troubled by what happened to Sean Bell and his two friends. My prayers go out to the family of the victims. At the same time I am so angry about what happened to that 23-year-old young man who now has to be buried by his mother and his fiancee. The mayor response made no sense to me. How can you ask that people not jump to conclusions when there is an unarmed man DEAD. My cousin expresses her anger with regards to the officer who shot 31 bullets emptying two magazines. As for this household we are enraged. What explanation can be given to the family as well as the people of New York? It makes it very difficult to not be supportive of the idea, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. May Sean rest in peace and may God comfort the many people he has left behind. We also pray for the speedy recovery of his two friends.
I believe you are looking past some very obvious defenses on the police side. It was a strip club under observation for drugs, prostitution, and weapons. The guys were taking a girl home, it was 4am, and they tried to run over a police officer trying to stop them.
I understand the cause of your newsletter is to prove the radical right is wrong but don’t do so at the expense of the truth. If you do, then people won’t believe those things that are.
Response from Revolution Editors
The deep anger and bitter experience reflected in many of these letters is righteous and positive. That anger must be transformed both into action and, even more important now, into a search for the cause of these outrages, and the way to end them. Prayers to a god that doesn't exist will only lead away from what needs to be done—we need science to really understand what we're up against and how to make revolution to change it all. Get with that science. Take up this paper. And get into the work of the leader of the RCP, Bob Avakian. Listen to the talks up on bobavakian.net and get your hands on the DVD Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. The Revolution DVD breaks down and answers those questions with sweep and depth (and, as one part of that, dissects the particular role and purpose of the police under this system).
For those who wrote and made excuses for the police or who put stock in “the official story,” even if you’re upset at what they did to Sean Bell: we're tempted to just say that you should wake the hell up. Can anybody or anything justify 50 shots at an unarmed man? But you too should get deeper into our paper and into the works of Bob Avakian. You should listen to the other letter writers and the reality they're reflecting. And to the person who objected to the KKK comparison and raised the specter of crime: Ask yourself this, before you talk of crime and criminals in this instance: Leaving aside the fact that no crime has been proven or even charged against Sean Bell and his friends... what kind of a system casts off a whole section of these youth into rotting decaying schools, in communities with few if any jobs, and then proceeds to lock up so many of these youth—most for nonviolent offenses—that this country has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world? What kind of a system is it where crime has become "a rational choice" for many youth of the oppressed nationalities, as even some of the system's own theoreticians admit? What does this have to do with the whole history of slavery and Jim Crow and the present-day reality of racist discrimination in every sphere that marks this country and its system? And how are the police who defend and enforce this system really any different than the KKK which enforced Jim Crow segregation? Who are the REAL criminals in all this? And is this really what you want to defend?
One story, for your consideration:
In the Spring of 2000, in a flurry of other shootings at the time, Patrick Dorismond, 26, was fatally shot in the chest by a police officer in midtown. An undercover police officer had stopped the Haitian immigrant and asked him where you could purchase marijuana in the area. Dorismond told him to bug off, a scuffle broke out and the cops shot and killed the unarmed Dorismond. To justify the shooting, Mayor Giuliani released Dorismond’s sealed juvenile arrest record and tried to make it look like he was shot while dealing dope. The city then sent hundreds of police officers dressed in riot gear to patrol Dorismond’s funeral. Police assaulted and pepper-sprayed mourners. It was only later that the real story came out, and even then a grand jury chose not to indict.
Now multiply this story by the hundreds, or even thousands. The Stolen Lives Project (a project of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, www.october22.org) has documented the killings of more than 2,000 people in the 1990s. According to the Project, since New York City police killed Amadou Diallo in 1999 in a hail of 41 bullets, they have gunned down 133 other people; Stolen Lives estimates that on a national level, already more than 2,000 others have been killed in the first half of this decade.
Two thousand people. If you are a responsible human being you have to get hold of the Stolen Lives Project book—or go to their website—and get the facts on these cases: how people were cut down by the police; how the police then lied; and how the accused cops were rarely indicted and, when they were, almost always went free. Then ask yourself why, and—again—what kind of a system allows that. Look that reality in the face—and then break with it.
To all our readers: keep writing.
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