From Vivir Latino:
About an hour ago, the three New York City Police officers charged with an array of charges for the November 25th, 2006 shooting death of 23 year old groom Sean Bell, were cleared of all charges. Unarmed, Sean Bell died in a hail of 50 some bullets outside a strip club where he was having his bachelor party.
I am gobsmacked by the denial of justice to not only Sean Bell and his family, but also to the communities that have been paralyzed by the legacy of police violence. Sean Bell’s death was not an accident; accidents do not involve 50 bullets. This was not a tragic misunderstanding or a situation gone awry; rather it was a brutal example of a life that has less worth because of the color of his skin. Kevin Powell talks about the structures in our society that breed these tragedies,
This is not to suggest that all police officers are trigger-happy and inhumane, because I do not believe that. They have a difficult and important job, and many of them do that job well, and maintain outstanding relationships with our communities. I know officers like that. But what I am saying is that New York, America, this society as a whole, still views the lives of Black people, of Latino people, of people of color, of women, of poor or working-class people, as less than valuable. It does not matter that two of the three officers charged in the Sean Bell case were officers of color and one White. What matters is the mindset of racism that permeates the New York Police Department, and far too many police departments across America. Shooting in self-defense is one thing, but it is never okay to shoot first and ask questions later, not even if a police officer “feels” threatened, not even if the source of that “feeling” is a Black or Latino person.
There is talk of a civil case and possibly the Justice Department getting involved, but this isn’t just about finding solace and recognition through other legal channels. This is about the institutions that authorized 3 men to open fire on the unarmed and the Judge who reinforced that authority.