Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Protests and street, bridge and tunnel blockades have taken place today in New York, Chicago and Atlanta by many upset about the outrageous verdict in the Sean Bell police murder case.

There have already been dozens of arrests.

In Harlem, two dozen people were arrested when they tried to block the entrance to the Triborough Bridge.

At the Queensborough Bridge on New York's upper east side dozens more were in handcuffs with minutes.

In Brooklyn, a crowd of several hundred led by City Councilman Charles Barron (D-East New York) and Rev. Herbert Daughtry chanted, "We are all Sean Bell!" as they headed for the Brooklyn Bridge - where they met up with another group led by Rev. Al Sharpton . At the bridge Sharpton was arrested as hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic to protest the acquittals of the three detectives in the 50-bullet shooting of the unarmed Sean Bell. Arrested with Sharpton were two survivors of the shooting Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman and Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre.

Shortly after 3 p.m., some protesters kneeled down at the entrance of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, where more than 100 protesters gathered. Chanting "Justice for Sean Bell," they brought traffic to a standstill, blocking the entrance to the tunnel.

"It has nothing to do with race or being anti-NYPD," said demonstrator Antwan Minter, 31, of Harlem. "This is about basic human rights."

I don't know that I could say that.

Seems to me it has everything to do with race and the police... and "basic human rights."

"Today we are here to be peaceful," Hazel Dukes, president of the New York chapter of the NAACP, said. "Sean Bell will never be back with his wife and his two children, so there will never be justice for Sean Bell. We don't want there to ever be another Sean Bell."

Prior to the march Sharpton, speaking of the expected arrests of protesters, declared, "If you are not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you'll have to lock up the innocent."

It would be nice to see Barack Obama out there with the protesters, but that's not gonna happen, is it?

The following is from the NY Times.

Bell Protesters Block Traffic Across City

Several hundred protesters briefly shut down traffic at entrances to the Queensboro Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel this afternoon as part of a coordinated series of protests over the acquittal of three New York City police officers in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in 2006. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who coordinated the protests, was among dozens and perhaps hundreds of people who were arrested by the police — nearly all of them in an orderly fashion — for blocking traffic.

The protesters expressed outrage over a Queens judge’s decision on April 25 to acquit the three detectives — Michael Oliver, Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper — over the November 2006 death of Mr. Bell, who died in a hail of police bullets outside a nightclub in Jamaica, Queens, hours before he was to have been married.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network coordinated the protests, which were to include five locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as protests in Chicago and Atlanta.

The largest protest site appeared to be outside the New York City police headquarters in Lower Manhattan, where hundreds of protesters began gathering around 3 p.m. Mr. Sharpton emerged around 4:15 p.m., joined by Mr. Bell’s fiancĂ©e, Nicole Paultre Bell, as well as Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, two friends who were shot and injured along with Mr. Bell. Leading a large crowd, they gathered on a traffic island in Centre Street, in front of the city’s Municipal Building, and blocked the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. They sat down and prayed, blocking traffic, until the police began a mass arrest of protesters starting around 4:40 p.m. Police officers placed plastic “zip cuffs” on the wrists of the protesters, taking the men and women away separately.

Earlier in the afternoon, a smaller crowd of about protesters gathered on the East Side of Manhattan near the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge. Around 3:30 p.m. they stepped onto the lanes of the bridge, blocking traffic for about 30 minutes. The Rev. Dock Johnson, pastor of Community Baptist Church in South Ozone Park, Queens, kneeling with both arms extended and wearing a pin-striped suit, a leather cap and sunglasses, led the protesters, who sat down in the middle of the traffic lanes. After they resisted police orders to disperse, the protesters — including Mr. Johnson — were placed in plastic handcuffs and arrested.

Also on the East Side of Manhattan, around the same time, 100 protesters marched east on 34th Street before turning north of Second Avenue. A group of about 40 formed a line across the entrance to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and formed a line, chanting. They blocked traffic for about 10 minutes until about 20 were arrested; the remainder continued their protest but stopped blocking traffic.

Uptown, a group of about 150 protesters gathered on 125th Street, Harlem’s main thoroughfare, and briefly blocked traffic leading to the Triborough Bridge; several dozen protesters were arrested.

A crowd of about 200 people gathered in Brooklyn, many of them blocking the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge; a city official said that 23 were arrested.
Sewell Chan, David Giambusso, C. J. Hughes, Sharon Otterman and Karen Zraick contributed reporting.

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