Sean and his fianc�e Nicole Paultre Bell

NEW YORK ( – When the word of Justice Arthur Cooperman’s “not guilty” verdict reached the crowd outside the Queens Supreme Court, shouts of “No! No! No!” erupted immediately. The family of Sean Bell, along with the two wounded friends of the slain father of two little girls, and the Rev. Al Sharpton quietly walked own Queens Boulevard–the media left in the dark as the group bypassed a bank of microphones.

An impromptu march lasted for a few blocks down one of Queens crowded streets. “There is no justice for colored folk–regardless if you are Puerto Rican, Black, whatever,” said one person.” This verdict is “indicative of a pattern that continues in this city,” said another.

The only one to comment to a reporter came Mr. Bell’s father, William, who reportedly said, “The judge spit in my face.” The group spent considerable time on April 25 at Mr. Bell’s graveside. Then it was on to Harlem and Rev. Sharpton’s syndicated radio show, which was dedicated to the verdict in the Bell case.


“Justice did not miscarry today, this was an abortion of justice,” Rev. Sharpton told the national radio listening audience. This fight is far from over, he vowed.

“They expect us to react in traditional ways–they will not get that,” Rev. Sharpton stated emphatically. He then talked about possible economically-targeted actions and non-violent disobedience to disrupt the city.

The three acquitted detectives, Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper and Gescard Isnora, gathered for their own press conference. Only one, Det. Cooper, who faced a lesser charge of reckless endangerment, apologized to the Bell family.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown defended the prosecution’s handling of the case. “We did our job,” he said. Justice Cooperman said the prosecution failed to meet their burden of proof.

Nicole Paultre Bell, who lost her fiancée and the father of two daughters, broke her silence April 26 before a packed house at the National Action Network headquarters. “On April 25, they killed Sean all over again,” she said. “The justice system let me down.”

The woman whose husband-to-be was killed on their wedding day vowed to participate in every march and demonstration until justice was served.

“Is this 1955 Alabama?” asked William Bell, the victim’s father.

Valerie Bell, Sean Bell’s mother, said, “Nov. 25, 2006, that is when my labor pains started,” referring to the day her son was killed. Ms. Bell said justice would be done “as we come together in peace and solidarity.”

“There are no winners in a trial like this,” said Mayor Michael Blomberg, in a statement.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) called the shooting a tragedy. “We must also embrace this opportunity to take those steps to make sure this does not happen again,” she said.

Her opponent for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), campaigning at an Indianapolis gas station, said, “The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.” Sen. Obama was responding to a reporter’s question.

In the park across from the courthouse, protesters wanted no part of simply respecting the verdict. People’s Justice for Community Control and Accountability, a coalition of grassroots organizations, had called for an evening demonstration regardless of the verdict. “We’re reminded of Amadou Diallo (41 shots) all over again. We’re reminded of ..Anthony Baez, Eleanor Bumpers and all the others who have died at the hands of the NYPD’s killer cops,” said Joo-Hyun Kang of Organizing Asian Communities.

“This scandalous verdict is another reminder that the courts will fail the people of New York City over and over again when it comes to trying police violence,” said Juanita Young. Her son, Malcolm Ferguson, was killed by police in an incident related to the victim’s participation in a protest after the Diallo acquittal. Also appearing at the rally was Lisa Claudio, whose fiancée, Jayson Tirado was killed in 2007 by an undercover, off-duty officer during a road rage incident.

People’s Justice announced plans for a citywide CopWatch and Know Your Rights program to monitor and stop police violence.