- Black men targeted for slaughter: The murder of Sean Bell (FCN, 12-13-2006)
- Justice demanded in police killing of 92-year-old woman (FCN, 12-12-2006)
- Dying while Black in New York City (FCN, 06-22-2003)
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – Some 40,000 people marched down the city’s famed Fifth Avenue on Dec. 16 to register their discontent with the recent rash of police shootings. The latest shooting that has captured the attention of the world is the killing of 23-year-old Sean Bell in the early morning of Nov. 25, outside of a Queens club. Mr. Bell was to be married the same day. Two passengers were wounded after police fired 50 shots into their car.
“Shopping For Justice” was the theme of the Saturday afternoon march called by Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the Coalition to Improve Police and Community Relations. “We do not need to just relieve our feelings and have nothing change. That is why we feel this broad cross-section will bring about the kind of collective community pressure that will move our city forward,” Rev. Sharpton told reporters. There were no speeches at the end of the march.
Standing with a broad spectrum of the city’s leadership was Minister Kevin Muhammad, head of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 7., who was joined in the march by Muslim men and women of the Nation of Islam.
“We are out here today representing the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s vision of a Millions More Movement, to organize ourselves around this principle, to not wait for the next Sean Bell; not wait for the next incident to take place, but to organize ourselves into a Ministry of Defense to defend ourselves against these things,” Min. Kevin explained to The Final Call.
The Action Network, one of the participating groups that is part of the anti-war group the ANSWER coalition, stated in their release announcing their participation: “Youth are targeted by the police, whether it is abuse or harassment on the street, arrests and beatings. Gentrification is deepening in Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn–driving out workers to make room for the wealthy. Unemployment is intensifying poverty. Unemployment amongst Black men in New York City is at 50 percent; and the answer has been an epidemic of police terror.”
“Organizing against these things is what the movement is all about,” claimed Min. Kevin. “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us when he said, do not wait for a Caucasian to give you freedom, justice and equality–you get that from Allah (God) only,” he stressed.
As the Muslims were taking their places in the march outside of famed Plaza Hotel, the crowd could be heard chanting, “NOI, NOI–the Nation of Islam is here.”
Observers say that this march was one of the most diverse held in the city in years. Alongside Rev. Sharpton and Min. Kevin were politicians, leaders of the NAACP, labor activists and the Urban League. There were Muslims, Asians, Whites, Latinos and Black people from every walk of life. And there was Harry Belafonte.
“The reason we’re doing this is because it’s one of the only mechanisms left to us,” Mr. Belafonte told reporters.
Reverend Calvin Butts, pastor of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, told The Final Call that this was his last march. “We must take more direct action, and we must respect ourselves more,” he said. “Appealing to the mayor and police commissioner will yield no results as we have seen in the past. So, this time I think we have sent a message, and now it is up to us,” Rev. Butts stated.
“We were here today, not just for a march, but in the spirit of the Millions More Movement,” Min. Kevin repeated.
Jeffrey Davis, whose brother Councilman James Davis was a victim of gun play in the City Council chambers a few years ago, summed up the day: “We have something to build off of. This march showed our strength politically and it showed that we have come together.”