Revolution#129, May 18, 2008

Anger in the Streets After the Sean Bell Verdict

Young Black man from Sean Bell’s neighborhood:

They come in the hood and search your car, they put you up against your bumper and they’re right up on you. They plant stuff on you and steal your money. This is how they do. I hate them with a passion. We need a revolutionary movement to put a stop to this, we need to tell the whole world.

Filipina woman at the May 2 march:

I am here to show my support, even alone, because something is wrong with the system. When I lived in the Philippines I thought there was justice in the U.S., but I came here and there is no justice. I support the family [of Sean Bell] but not just them. What will happen to our grandchildren’s future?

College freshman, who lives near Club Kalua, at May 2 march:

I got interested because I have children, and me myself as a young Black man, I’ve been racially profiled many times. At the moment I have a case pending for disorderly conduct because a police officer approached me saying I fit the description of a Black man that has a gun. And I told him I’m just coming from school, from the registrar’s office, and he still wouldn’t listen to me, he still violated my rights and searched me, and I got angry and called him a couple of profanities. So he gave me a disorderly conduct and that’s it. This is racial profiling, you know? I have to get involved because we have to put a stop to this fascist state, this police-state-type mentality. This capitalist mentality has to go, understand? It’s not working for me, it’s not working for Sean Bell’s family, it’s not working for a lot of people in Iraq. It’s not working at all, it’s got to go, it’s just not healthy. I’m not with it.

Excerpt of Statement from Elaine Brower, member of the Steering Committee of World Can’t Wait – Drive Out The Bush Regime, arrested in the civil disobedience on May 7:

What we call “justice” in this City, and all the way to Baghdad, is not just. The people are not being protected, they are being oppressed. So it is time the people respond! In fact, it is way past time. We have sat by long enough and watched the NYPD inflict pain and suffering on people in this City. They have free reign to “stop and frisk,” specifically targeting youths in communities of color. They have entered our subway systems with machine guns and attack dogs in the name of security. They have installed thousands upon thousands of video surveillance systems all around our City in the name of safety. And they are free to unleash gunfire at their will, or as NYPD regulations say “…until the threat or the perceived threat is over….” Only by all of us joining together stopping business as usual will we start changing the direction of the perpetrators of violence.

22-year-old man:

I was really upset about the verdict. I couldn’t sleep the night before and started watching the news at 5:30 am, before the verdict, and then I saw the verdict live, I saw everyone’s reaction. And if I was down there at the courthouse I would have been the same way. I marched on Wednesday and that’s the first time I had a chance to be in the streets. Someone here said it was fun. That’s right, I had a lot of fun, a lot better than having a beef because some guy steps on my sneaker. I would rather target the system. This is a wake-up call for the hip-hop generation, for our generation. Just like Iraq is the Vietnam for this generation, Sean Bell is our civil rights movement. There are fifty bullets now, what’s next? One is too many! I’m a young Black man and I want to enjoy myself but I also have to have consciousness. I’m willing, ready, and able to do whatever is needed to help.

Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party:

What has to start here is a movement that says “Justice for Sean Bell, We Are All Sean Bell, NYPD Go To Hell.” And it has to say, “We Are All Sean Bell, the Whole Damn System is Guilty!” The Harlem Revolution Club had posters saying that and people at the protest on Wednesday took every one we had.

Brothers and sisters, we need another world. A world where people’s needs are met, and where everyone mixes it up—basic people, engineers, artists, all kinds of people mix it up to figure out how to solve problems and understand the world and change it. In this kind of society, the people’s security would sooner take a bullet than kill one of the people. And this system won’t make this happen, it’s going to take a revolution, a communist revolution, to do this.

One of the sisters here is a teacher—we need educators figuring out how to take this into the classroom. We need sermons about putting a stop to this. We need this resistance coursing through society. We should be strategizing with all kinds of people about what it will take to stop this, and we have to keep taking it to the streets.

One man who was talking this over with one of the revolutionaries said, “So what you’re saying is that either we bury this system or we’ll continue to bury our children.” That’s the reality we are dealing with. I’m tired of burying our children. We are all Sean Bell, and the whole damn system is guilty. Fifty shots is murder, and it’s fifty more reasons for revolution.

Will from the Harlem Revolution Club:

People are thinking and changing as they fight, and it needs to become not just about what’s “best for me.” Someone said to some of us, “I can’t do this right now, I’m thinking about my school and job,” and another guy said, “What’s so important about that right now when they just killed somebody and got away with it?” At some point we have to make this about all of humanity. Otherwise if you are thinking just about yourself, or your block, your school, your set, you will eventually sell out. When we get a movement that’s about [liberating] all of humanity, then they have a big problem.

Young Haitian-American man:

The first thing I heard when I came to NYC from Miami nine months ago was about Sean Bell. I thought maybe the cops will go to jail for fifty shots, and when I saw the verdict I almost cried. But at the same time I wasn’t surprised. Diallo was shot 41 times, nothing happened. George Bush bombed Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, and he got away with it.

We fought a revolution in Haiti 200 years go. Toussaint led a revolution of the slaves, and if they could do that, we can do anything. I’m ready to do anything. Let’s talk about how to do this. We need a solution about how to bring on the revolution. Let’s go to the streets, come together, bring awareness, and get in their face. One person said to me, we kill each other and no one does anything. So I said, does that mean we should let the police shoot us and we do nothing? Another guy said, my brother got shot and no one did anything. I said, that’s more reason for you to be with us, you can’t sit back. Another person said to me that Sean Bell “must have been doing something.” This is a mentality that accepts that you can be doing anything or nothing, just be Black, and this can happen to you. We need to be in the streets. When I saw what happened in Philly, the video of the cops beating those men, I was sad. The whole world has to know about this. We can’t allow these things to happen and not do anything. They will just keep killing us. We have to fight the power.

Woman in T-shirt (teacher) that said, “NYPD – KKK – Don’t kill any innocent people today”:

I was at the Sean Bell trial every day. It was evident the fix was in. The prosecutor was very laid back. It was obvious even to some of us with no legal training that they were not objecting when they should have been. He never objected when Ricco (one of the cops’ attorneys) was tearing down Joseph Guzman [one of the men shot by the NYPD], who had every right to be angry. And then the judge has the audacity to base his verdict on Guzman’s demeanor!

My daughter, at age 17, was the victim of police brutality. They beat her in the street, and handcuffed me and made me watch. We’re in federal court now against the City of New York. It’s a joke—the judge is on the side of the police. They said the police did nothing wrong and then offered $10,000. I said, if they did nothing wrong, don’t offer any money!

We have to advance together. It’s not a color thing but it’s about human rights and civil rights. This affects us all. 

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