Sean Bell

Like many of you, I am outraged that the three detectives were acquitted of killing Sean Bell. Sean was 23 the night he was set to be married the next day and though he was unarmed, the cops thought him dangerous enough to deserve being killed. And Sean wasn’t just killed, he was shot 50 times. It is crap like this that make me upset as to why Black people fear and distrust the police.

I know there will be rallies held in New York to protest this miscarriage of justice and if you are in the area, you should go. After the marches though, Bell’s story like Amadou Diallo and others will be filed in the Black consciousness as the continuing saga of injustice that has plagued Black folk since we were kidnapped from Africa. Surely this is worth Black folk being bitter right?

Bell was killed at a strip club and the undercover detectives were there to investigate if there was prostitution going on. Prostitution is wrong I get it. But quite frankly, how in the world do you investigate prostitution? I mean you tell me that these detectives couldn’t have set up a camera and watch the footage from the precinct? Aren’t there enough unsolved murders in the hood that could be a better use of these detectives’s time? And while I don’t have a J.D., how is it these detectives were not brought before a jury?

I try to imagine the hell I would raise if one of my people suffered a death like Sean Bell. The fact is that while I never knew Sean, he is my brother and your brother too. Our prayers go out to Bell’s family and friends as they and we try to sort out this injustice.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.


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21 responses to “Sean Bell”

  1. Ellen says :

    I just read about Sean Bell’s murderers being acquitted and I am beyond angry. I remember being in New York when he was killed and feeling so disgusted and disrespected. I keep thinking what message does this send to black people? To white people? To New Yorkers? To children? To America? It really seems as if there is no justice in this country…

  2. hophmi says :

    I understand that people are upset over this verdict, but it is exceedingly difficult to prove cases like these beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not enough to count the number of shots fired. To add to the general difficulty of cases like these, the witnesses for the prosecution had significant credibility problems. The case should probably never have gotten past the grand jury stage.

    Defendants are entitled by right to trial by jury. They can, however, waive that right and be tried by a judge. I don’t think it would have made a difference in this particular case.

  3. Neila T! says :

    Though I respect everyone’s opinion it doesn’t matter if they were credible witnesses the fact is that they weren’t armed, weapons weren’t found on them, and another man of African descent is dead–for no reason except that men of African descent are always viewed as armed and dangerous.

    Further, it’s interesting to me that the officers did not testify in their own defense. I know people who sat in the courtroom day-in and out and never heard from the detectives during the trial. We don’t know the detectives. The first time they spoke was today at the press conference.

    Rev. Al said that “justice wasn’t miscarried, but aborted.”

    As one who was born and seasonally raised in NY, and is a New Yorker, has a brother who just retired from NYPD, my soul screams out because I know that Black police officers are trained to develop a hatred of men who look like them and in my opinion themselves because the Code Blue in NY is like non other. So make no mistake that if Sean Bell was not a descendant of Africa–no matter–the character flaws of his friends, he would probably be alive or those law enforcement officers would be GUILTY.

  4. Anonymous says :

    From what I’ve read, Bell wasn’t shot 50 times, he was shot AT 50 times, 31x from one insane officer. However, he was only struck 3 times. And while i don’t condone this very excessive use of force, what is it that we as Black folks expect to happen when you have seven guns trained on you, shouts to stop, but you (drunk) still get in the car, ignore the directions, ram another car and try to flee the scene? Seriously! He was a victim, but not an innocent one! Who the hell thinks they’re getting carjacked by 7 people? Come on now, Sharpton!!

    Yes, we are regularly victimized. Yes, we are continually prosecuted unjustly, but how often do we put ourselves in questionable situations? Everything isn’t always someone else’s fault. Let’s make sure we have all the facts and all of the plausible pov’s before we start jumping on bandwagons!

  5. Nubianus says :

    Anon– he wasn’t fleeing a crime scene drunk. The officers were in plainclothes and in the melee of the situation, it seemed to Bell and others that these “cops” were just thugs trying to hold people up. That’s how badly this thing was botched. Sean Bell and his friends weren’t running away from cops– they were running away from people who they thought, with good reason, were violent criminals. Would any of us do differently? This was just a bachelor party for goodness sakes, any of us could have been stuck in those circumstances.

    I have some sympathy for the cops in general, they have a tough job with tough calls, but this was just inexcusable. I have white, Latino and Asian friends backing us up on this, so it isn’t just a racial thing either.

    Despite the anger we all justifiably have due to the injustice of the Sean Bell case, we need to harness this anger toward productive uses.

    If things are ever going to improve for African-Americans, we have to redouble our efforts to gain social, political and economic power here.

    Remember, time and demographics are both on our side. Whites now have a birth rate well below replacement in the USA, while the African-American population grows steadily both by natural growth and immigration from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Even some Blacks immigrating to the USA from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. (BTW if any of you can speak Spanish and/or Portuguese, please encourage our Black brethren in Latin America, especially from Brazil, to emigrate to the USA. There’s strength in numbers.)

    I know Blacks and Latinos have often been at loggerheads, but we’re natural allies– both fighting against White oppression, with Latinos having been invaded in multiple wars by the Anglos in Florida, the Mexican-American War and Spanish-American War. Latinos lost half of Mexico when Anglos invaded in 1848, and were ethnically cleansed by Anglos so that they could start slavery in the conquered territories. Blacks and Latinos today are natural partners in the fight for social justice, both fighting for affirmative action and against discrimination. Spanish is an easy language to learn, and the more that we reach out to each other, speak some Spanish ourselves, and support our Latino brothers and sisters, the more our alliance is cemented.

    I’d say if anything, the key for us is to gain political power, and to do that, it’s best to concentrate ourselves geographically a bit more in a few states, where we will soon be the majority. On the one hand, we need Blacks throughout the country to demand our rights, but on the other, a better geographical focus is the key to political power, as it is throughout the world’s democratic countries.

    IOW, we need to have our own “North American Nubia” where we have a demographic majority and political power. Some Deep South States are obvious candidates– Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana for example, all of which will soon be Black-majority within perhaps a decade. This would be a core of our nation.

    But we can have a second North American Nubia (or North American Africana, whichever name you prefer) in the Upper Midwest– Michigan is one of the Blackest states in the Union, and much of Illinois is also strongly African-American in demographics, culture and social importance.

    Some of my homies from college have even urged conversion to Islam for African-Americans. It’s not something I’ve considered myself, though I’ll acknowledge that at least for many urban African-Americans, they’ve done quite well after the conversion. Many having been in jail or kept out of jail, they become more focused and disciplined, as fathers they take care of their Black children and care better for Black women, stay away from drugs and violence and so forth. (interesting link a friend sent to me– The Nubian Manifesto )

    IMHO there are many different personal routes we can take for empowerment, but as a group, we must stay strong and focused and, again, have enough of a geographic concentration that we can gain political power. Just as we should ally with Latinos as they become the majority in their own homelands in Southwestern states and Florida, so should Blacks ally with Muslims in Michigan (who will soon be the majority in that state).

    It’s obvious from our people’s history here, that we’ll survive only by standing up for ourselves. Political and economic empowerment are the central aspects of this.

  6. Dan says :

    It’s not easy being an African American in this country. It is still hard to believe that so many shots fired at unarmed people could result in a not guilty verdict. I’m White and I don’t always agree with Black issues, but this is ridiculous. It makes me afraid of the police.

  7. Andre Brown says :

    I think we can debate the specifics of this case back and forth all day long. However, the real problem and my real outrage, is the systematic mistreatment of Black people in the U.S. It has defined who we are as a people and has been our existence since we first stepped foot onto this country’s shore. We have always been considered second class and that hasn’t changed in over 400 years. This second class status has allowed others to rape, ravage, and murder us and our communities, with little to no consequences for these injustices. The case of Sean Bell is no different.
    I believe what we as Black people need to know is that this country and the majority of people who inhabit it don’t give a FUCK about us or our issues (excuse my foul language). We need to realize that any change that’s going to happen for us is going to have to be planned, implemented and sustained through us, the people. Not the dysfunctional educational and criminal systems. Not the liberal do-gooder White people. And no, not even the Black man running for the Presidency of the United States. He simply can’t do it alone.
    Anytime that any real positive change has come about in the Black community it was because the people took a stand and demanded change. Those things took time though. The Civil Rights Movements spanned a few decades and was a sustained demand for change. We’re so caught up in this microwave society that we live in that we’re on one cause today and the next it’s out the window. When will we realize that the way this country functions was not made for us? It’s not compatible with who we are as people of African descent.
    It’s been said that those who don’t know their past are doomed to repeat it and for Black folks this rings ever so true. From slavery to Jim Crow to Emmett Till to Tuskegee to Rodney King to Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell: it’s all the same shit, just a different day; or in our case a different generation. We have to begin to re-educate ourselves and our children. We need to begin to rebuild our communities and function as a community. We have to get ourselves together first. We have to not see ourselves as second class citizens, as these Black policemen have obviously been conditioned to believe, and recognize that we’re owed some things and we need to be about the business of getting them.
    I am angry!!! I’ve been fuming ever since I read the story this morning. However, at some point that anger has to be directed toward something positive or else it becomes a parasite that eats away at me as a person. The same thing is to be said for Black folks and racism. Yeah racism sucks! And yeah we’re angry. But we have to stand in solidarity and fight to get the rights that are owed to us as human beings.

  8. W says :

    It was a bad situation, however gentlemen leaving a strip club after drinking one drink every half hour, and making factious remarks about “guns” ought not be the poster children of police misconduct. There are so many other cases.

  9. Confused says :

    Ok Sean Bell was black. So does that mean it is obviously racist that he was killed. Two of the cops that shot him were black! How can it be racist? Are you saying the judge was for the black cops but racist for the black civilian? I don’t get it. People should be mad at the law and not blame racism for every crime that occurs, it hurts the case for real racism that occurs.

  10. Declan says :

    My heart goes out to sean bells family,seemed like a decent enough fella and a good baseball player.But this kid was no saint.Selling crack to undercover cops,(not once but twice)posession of firearms,him and his “thug” friends(13 arrests between them)didnt deserve this but really and truly should a family man with a kid who had prior convictions be at a club where prostitution is know to take place??

    As for the kidnapping from Africa,its time to move on and forgive.

  11. Andre Brown says :

    These will be my last few comments and I’ll be done:

    1. A man was murdered: plain and simple. The fact that one of the officers reloaded and fired 31 shots by himself is ridiculous and truly an excessive use of force. And he has gone unpunished. Despite what people do in their lives no one deserves to have their life taken from them. And over allegations of prostitution and drugs, of which these men were not a part of.

    2. In response to the post by Confused, just because two Black officers were involved in the shooting does not mean that racism was not involved. There’s this little thing called internalized racism. And when someone who is Black receives, internalizes, and projects onto other Blacks or themselves it doesn’t mean it’s not racism because it comes from the same place as White people’s racism against White people. Do I think that racism was the only element involved in this case? No. But it does play a role and is a pattern of mistreatment as I discussed in my earlier post.

    3. As for Declan’s comment about kidnapping from slavery, I believe that you can only forgive someone when they ask for forgiveness. And a huge part of that request for forgiveness should include an apology. Black people have not received the apology nor the request for forgiveness. It’s like slapping someone in the face and then expecting them to just get over it. It just doesn’t happen that way. The U.S. has not atoned with the Black community. In fact, what has happened is that the slave mentality and treatment has been perpetuated in many different forms. At the very heart of slavery was the belief that Black people were somehow less than a human being. It was written in the Constitution!!! That has not changed.
    Yeah, they amended the Constitution, but what’s on paper is not what happens in reality. Black people are still seen and treated as 3/5th of a person in many respects. We have been systematically abused for centuries. There’s a reason that Blacks have disparities in just about everything you can imagine; health, education, wealth, etc. It’s not a mistake. It was planned that way from the very beginnings of this country; a plan that has been sustained for generations. That’s something that I can’t get over and it’s definitely not something that I’m willing to forgive, until the problem has been acknowledged, addressed, and rectified.

  12. Anonymous says :

    Bell got killed because he and his friends tried to run over the cops. Lesson: Don’t try to kill cops and they won’t try to kill you.

  13. Anonymous says :

    None of you, or us, really believed these cops were going to be found guilty of anything, did you / we? The trial was a set-up from the start. Tomorrow- we’ll chant “No justice.. No peace” and that will be it! This City I love so much will kill you in a heartbeat and nothing evers happenns, no one is held to account, especially not the police. The chanting dies down, the cops go about their lives, see them smirking walking into court? Boy, they LOOKED worried. Nothing will ever change this City, unless the people really rise up. The days of King and X are long gone, the blood of black men mean not a damn thing in OUR city, where is the justice for Amadou Diallo ? Patrick Dorismond? Timothy Stansbury Jr.? and Sean Bell? By Spring of 2009 the cops will murder again, like clockwork – you can count on it. What we will do….No Justice No…

  14. ellen says :


    can you define racism for me? as i know it, racism is defined as holding power over one racial group of people. using that definition, institutionalized racism cannot exist.

    i hear what you’re saying and i’m not arguing that there aren’t severe psychological problems that need to be addressed in the black community. however, that isn’t racism.

    this reminds me of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and seems to me to be an issue of the oppressed getting power and becoming the oppressor.

    just trying to bring a different spin to things…

  15. Garlin II says :

    Words cannot express how much of a travesty this is. No, it’s not surprising, but yes, it is disheartening.

    Here’s an interesting, feminist take on this tragedy from the blog Feministe (which is excellent by the way):

    The problem is that this disproportionately affects communities of color. The black men who are most often slaughtered by such violence, and all the women and children in their lives too, their loved ones, friends and relatives. A system that is all too eager to exonerate “the thin blue line” and continue business as usual. All of these are feminist issues. Racism must be a feminist issue, for any kind of feminism that counts. Police brutality must be; the biases of the criminal justice system must be.

  16. Its A Wallet, JERK! says :

    None of you, or us, really believed these cops were going to be found guilty
    of anything, did you / we? The trial was a set-up from the start. Tomorrow-
    we’ll chant “No justice.. No Peace” and that will be it! Sure, our feet will hurt a tad bit from the marching and maybe the throat will be sore too, but that’s how far we’ll take it. We won’t do anything else. This City I love so much will kill you in a heartbeat and nothing ever happens, no one is held to account, especially not the police. The public chanting dies down, the cops go about their lives, see them smirking walking into court? Boy, they LOOKED
    worried. Nothing will ever change this City, unless the people really rise up.
    The days of King and X are long gone, the blood of innocent, unarmed black men
    mean not a damn thing in OUR city, where is the justice for Amadou Diallo?
    Patrick Dorismond? Timothy Stansbury Jr.? and Sean Bell? By spring of 2010 the
    cops will murder again, like clockwork – you can count on it. What will we
    do….No Justice No……… In the movie “Untouchables” the question is asked, “What are you prepared to do?”… No Justice….

    You can get killed just for living in… your American skin!

  17. Anonymous says :

    I can’t stand how everyone against this ruling writes as if Sean took all 50 shots and that is just not true. There were “50 SHOTS FIRED” and some were misses, some hit his friends and some hit Sean. The officers were set free because his friends stories didn’t match. When that happens, you know one of them is lieing if not both. It’s not a racial situation. Having a criminal record is like having a bad credit score. It shows where your priorities are. When someone is acting like a fool in public, talking about beating people up, saying, “get my gun” and trying to run over an officer… bad things are going to happen. Those actions are not a good time, nor are they acceptible. It’s as acceptible as walking into an airport and talking about the bomb in your bag. I’ve had to give that lecture to my daughters boyfriend several times and this is a good example of what I’ve been preaching. Officers put their lives on the line every day to keep everyone safe. They are condemned when they accomplish something and the are condemned if they fail. God bless them all!

  18. Anonymous says :

    To anonymous May 8, 2008 – what difference does it make if Sean died as a result of one bullet, or fifty. Point is, the cowards who shot him shouldn’t have fired one bullet much less fifty. And where exactly is the credibility issue here. A judge, sitting as the fact finder, is of course free to make judgment calls as to witness credibility, but what he or she cannot do is to disregard evidence that does not support his or her preconceived notion or view of the case. For example – Sean Bell is dead as a result of being shot by the losers who were on trial. Undisputed.
    The cops did not deny firing these shots. Undisputed.
    No one denied that the witnesses who the judge found so “not credible” were shot by the defendants.
    No gun was found in the car occupied by Bell and the other victims. Undisputed.

    Now what didn’t this judge believe. Why would someone say that they were going to get a gun that they knew that they didn’t have to settle a violent dispute when it would prompt the opponent, who might have a gun, to reach for his weapon. That makes no sense. Furthermore, was there ever any evidence that the defendants actually flashed their badges to Bell and the victims before opening fire?
    Who in their right mind stands in front of a moving car? This was stupid and cowardly. You cannot create a potentially life threatening situation and then cry self defense. The law doesn’t recognize self defense in such a situation. What this judge did was wrong. The blood of Sean Bell is on these cops hands for all eternity.

  19. Mike G says :

    Wow. How tragic to see a community, a people, a race, so fueled by anger that any form of reason is out the window. How quick some are to judge on something they know nothing about. Only those who were there at the shooting know what actually occurred. All those who were not there will be quick to choose a side without knowing all the facts based on their own bias or prejudice. I don’t condone any wrong doing but I also don’t speak about the shooting. I only speak on the attitudes and how quick so many are willing to cry “RACISM, LOOSERS,” or “KILLERS.” I find it quite amusing when so many are quick to offer up how others should do their job. Next time you take your car to the mechanic, make sure you tell him how to fix your car and which tools to use. next time you go to th dentist, tel the Dr. how to fix or clean your teeth. Next time you go to the doctor, tell him how to perform the surgery. Next time you see a police officer make sure, you tell that officer how to do his job.
    As a people, as the HUMAN RACE, let us not segragrate oursleves from each other, and continue to play the VICTIM!

  20. Larry 55X says :

    I am 57 years old and have lived in Richmond, VA, Durham,NC, Washington DC and now Newport News, Va. My age should tell you that I have lived in two Americas. Pre and post civil rights eras. In my lifetime I have seen via TV and papers this tally: Black Males unarmed killed by police… 30 plus. Black Females unarmed…2, White Males unarmed 2, White Females unarmed…0. None of the police were convicted, So now in 2008, how do you think I am going to feel about yet another Black male getting killed? By the way in the 60s, 70,and 80s the same ole white authorities didnt even show any feelings, at least now they do have court cases. This is new. For the non-believers just “goggle” Black unarmed and police. I taught my sons how to interact with the police…that is a skilled developed by living in two America. It sad, but it needed. Now when my son is out, he has no allies.. Teach your love ones how to interact so the can come home alive.

  21. Anonymous says :

    If I am paying the bill, I expect the job to be done to my satisfaction. Police are paid from public funds. The public has a right to police the police and not be endangered by the people who are supposed to protect and serve them. I do no want to integrate with anyone who does not consider my life as important as they consider their own.

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