April 29, 2008
As The Reverend Al Sharpton pledged Tuesday to lead citywide civil disobedience in response to last week's acquittals for three police detectives, exact details and effects remained a mystery. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report. After a secretive strategy session, the Reverend Al Sharpton vowed Tuesday to lead a citywide response in Sean Bell's memory.
"There will be several actions within the next ten days," said Sharpton in a press conference. While Sharpton gave no specific details, some attendants had ambitious ideas. "We're gonna close down the George Washington Bridge at 5 o'clock in the evening or maybe 7 o'clock in the morning, when people are trying to get into this city," said Henry Singleton of the Local 1199 Service Emplyees International Union. "We must bring some attention to this."
Several committees met throughout the day to discuss to civil disobedience, boycotts and legal affairs. Among those attending were United Federation of Teachers' President Randi Weingarten and several city council members, and at least one of them expressed willingness to break the law for this cause. "I don't have a problem with doing whatever the majority of the community wants to do to show my disgust with what has happened," said Democratic Queens City Councilman Leroy Comrie.
Those gathered called it a quest for justice, after three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday for shooting a barrage of 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two of his friends near a club in Jamaica, Queens. Sean Bell died shortly afterwards, on the morning of his wedding day. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said those intending to break the law will be punished. Michael Palladino, President of the Detectives' Endowment Association, said "The same legal system that grants people the right to lawful assembly has found our three detectives not guilty." Yet, for all the talk and very real emotion from all types of New Yorkers, some people questioned how effective any type of action would be.
A prior march on Christmas 2006 drew thousands of people, and after the acquittals people have called for more marches. The group also seeks federal charges, which the FBI and Justice Department are considering. "In the context of someone being shot 50 times and then the people who do the shooting are brought up on no charges civil disobedience seems a very minor way of addressing that issue," said George Gresham, President of Local 1199 SEIU. - Josh Robin