WTF???!!! Sean Bell Injustice

News is in this morning that the 3 detectives in the Sean Bell case have all been acquitted on all charges pertaining to Sean Bell’s murder.

I’m shocked although sadly it’s not even that surprising.I had hoped though that justice might have been served. This is a travesty, a huge injustice and disrespectful of human life. What kind of a message does this verdict send out!? Police are still above the law it seems, able to kill innocent people willy nilly and not be held accountable. Lord help any of us who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only do we have to worry about being shot by criminals, but those who are supposed to protect us might kill us too.

Sean Bell was shot 50 times. 50. 5-0. I cannot for the life of me understand how or why officers who are highly trained in how to shoot accurately need to shoot one person 50 times. Could they not have disarmed (if they believe he was carrying a gun) or maimed him with a couple of shots? It’s likely that he probably would have died after the first few bullets anyway, so why the need for 50? That to me, does not sound like the actions of officers who were in control of a situation. Somehow the judge deemed otherwise.

What does this do for the relationship between the police and local communities? Let me be specific here – what does this do for the (already tense) relationship between the police and black people? We are supposed to trust the police, we are supposed to have faith in their ability to protect us when we can’t protect ourselves, they are supposed to be the ones who act as a barrier between us and those who might wish us harm. History has already shown many black people that they can’t and shouldn’t trust the police… and this ridiculous verdict further reinforces that point of view.

Is it ok for the police to kill innocent people just because they were ‘doing their job’? That’s what this verdict seems to suggest. Ah well, ya know, the cops were just doing their best, and too bad for Sean Bell who was caught up in it all. Never mind that he was innocent, that doesn’t matter…. Huh?? Even if the police were just doing their jobs, they made a fatal error which cost a young man his life. Their actions have fundamentally changed the lives of his family, his fiancee, his friends… Is there NO accountability for that whatsoever?!

Maybe the police were acting in the line of duty but they got it drastically wrong. Their actions did not protect. Their actions hurt and destroyed. They did not help a situation, they made it worse. If I work in a company and my actions – even if I believe them to be right at the time – end up in some huge financial loss or disaster for the company, you can bet I will be fired pretty promptly. The police’s actions in this case resulted in a huge mess: the loss of an innocent young life. The judge said that there was no evidence that the police officers acted criminally. Are you telling me that killing an innocent person is not criminal?! Once again, I ask – where’s the accountability??

In England, THANK GOD, the police do not carry guns (and guess what – crimes still get solved without them!)… A case like this proves even further that they should not be able to. Why? Cos they can’t get it right! The police cannot be trusted to carry lethal arms. Ok, once in a while, things go wrong – they are human after all. I get that, but when things go wrong, you have to be held responsible. And the cops in the Sean Bell murder case should have been held responsible. If they were a group of thugs carrying arms who accidentally killed a young man, they would have gone to prison. But no, clearly wearing a police badge puts them above the law.

It’s a sad, very very sad day for justice. What’s even worse is that judging by many of the comments I’ve read online, many people expected this verdict. I feel for the family and friends and anyone else who knows Sean Bell. I didn’t even know him and I’m outraged. The family must keep on fighting and get the necessary justice that is due to them and their son. America’s police and legal system needs to check themselves and ask some hard questions.

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9 thoughts on “WTF???!!! Sean Bell Injustice

  1. I’ve written this for the bruthas and sistahs in the USA, I’m sure it applies in Britain as well. 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 (and Blacks in Britain), 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 and the UK, while the Black population grows steadily both by natural growth and immigration from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Even some Blacks immigrating to the USA and UK from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

    I know Blacks and Latinos in the USA 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, to organize and convert our demographic strength into political power. Some of my homies from college have even urged conversion to Islam for African-Americans, Blacks, and colored people in general in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 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– 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.

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

  2. Looking at the case from the UK you’ve got to say that it’s somewhat incredible that the Officers involved got away completely Scott Free. If Murder wasn’t the case, surely it was a case of Manslaughter, 50 shots is in anyones dictionary somewhat excessive.

    Lola you state, “In England, THANK GOD, the police do not carry guns”, but we’ve (Thats the UK) have never found a Policeman gulity of anything more serious than Administrative charges when it comes to the Deaths of Black People by or involving the Police.

    I’ve just finished an excellent book on one of the earliest cases of a Blackman being killed while in Police custody. It’s called Nationality: Wog – The Hounding of David Oluwale by Kester Aspden it’s a real eye opener.

    Black Narcissus

  3. If I understand this case properly (remind me if I am wrong) 2 out of 3 of the officers were black.
    I am not sure if there is a racial case to answer here, although granted that the white detective shot three times more shots than the two blacks. Is that a race issue or an issue of someone not knowing how to react under pressure, I suppose we will never know.

    I think the question we have to ask is what is justice? Bell was a victim in this but he was also drunk, driving under the influence and had rammed into a police car. The first man to shoot was a black police officer and then the other crazies joined in including the white dude who reloaded his 9mm. This is excessive force but if citizens are armed and suspected of having guns, surely it makes sense for police (who should know how to act under stress) to be able to be armed as well to protect citizens as well as send a message to armed citizens that they are armed too.

    Incidently with the increase of “terrorist activity” in the uk and a number of drug related raids in London, police are becoming more armed than we realise! I agree with all (including Mayor Bloomberg) that the force was excessive, but if we arm police, they are going to eventually use the gun’s one day. They are law enforcement offers which states that if they do lose it then take them off gun duty. What other punishment can we really suggest?

  4. Interesting comments from all. I definitely agree that we need to be more empowered as people as Nubianus said…

    Dave – hmmm…Not sure I agree with you. Bring drunk is not a crime as far as I’m aware! (It was his batchelor party after all!) I also don’t believe that Sean Bell was driving (i.e. that the vehicle was moving), but even if he was, the answer to that is not to shoot him 50 times.

    As regards to the race issue – racism is very complex. Have you seen the test from University of Chicago (http://backhand.uchicago.edu/Center/ShooterEffect/) that sees how fast you’d react to an armed white man or an armed black man? Even black people find in their results that they might be more likely to shoot the black man more quickly than the white man. I don’t think racism is so overt in a way that people consciously think “oh, there’s a black man, let’s kill him”, but acts on a much deeper, more profound subconscious level than that.

    I think ‘justice’ is being held responsible for one’s actions. If an innocent man is killed,the person/people should be held accountable. I can’t really understand what is difficult about that. The only difficulty seems to be that those who killed him are police officers.

    The reason I have a problem with police being armed is that some of them seem unable to cope with their arms under pressure and can become a little trigger happy. If the police are acting on faulty information or miscommunication then having a gun means that they are more likely to make tragic mistakes. Look at the mess that occurred in London with Jean Charles de Menezes. The point of having a gun is not just to shoot any old body any time you feel like it but that’s what seems to be happening – and somehow that’s acceptable because it was ‘in the line of duty’.

  5. The drunk and driving under the influence thing were supposed to be linked. That is a crime! I suppose my main concern is that the reaction to this seems to be (using Google news as my barometer) around race and justice as a result of this.

    The Shooter Effect is only one piece of research around race so I think we need more than that if we are going to assume that the two black police officers were shooting them on a subsconcious level because he was black. The officers knew Bell was a felon and this whole incident kicked off with relation to some other criminal activity that was being investigated at the time. I think less weight has been placed on this as being influential because talking about race is, dare I say it, somewhat easier for some.

    As for justice what are you suggesting someone who bears arms should do if they use it? This is not meant to be inflammatory and also I want you to assume I know nothing here. If a policeman shot someone who they thought was about to attack you in the back with say ten shots should the victim(s) family be entitled to some justice against said policemen.

    Searching…..

  6. p.s. Re John Charles de Menezes. Armed police are always in the capital. One incident (which involved more than one level of command) surely cant be the measure for whether police should be able to bear arms. If it means protecting me from many of the people who do carry arms in the UK, then I would rather that it was in the hands of a nervy policeman rather than the erratic young man who walked into a barber’s in London and shot someone over a beef!!!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7367672.stm

  7. The problem is Dave, it’s all very easy to say until it’s YOUR brother, sister, son or daughter who is accidently shot and killed.

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