Sean Bell protesters block Manhattan arteries

Protesters blocked New York’s Queensboro, Triborough, Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the Holland and Queens-Midtown tunnels May 7 to express outrage at the acquittal of three police detectives in the fatal 50-bullet shooting of unarmed Sean Bell at his his bachelor party at a Queens nightclub in November 2006. Hundreds were arrested. Protest leader Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking of the expected arrests, 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.” He was arrested later that day as he knelt to pray on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Arrested with Sharpton were two survivors of the shooting, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, and Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre. Small solidarity marches were held in Chicago and Atlanta.

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. The Daily News reported that Barron got into a “brief shoving match” with police—the day’s only instance of violence. (Infoshop News, Daily News, NYT City Blog, May 7)

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