The weeks before Christmas are the busiest shopping days of the year, but for the hundreds who will gather on Fifth Avenue in New York City this Saturday, Dec. 16, it won’t be a time to search for last-minute gifts. They’ll be attending Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network “Shopping for Justice,” a rally to remember Sean Bell, the unarmed Queens man who was killed in a barrage of 50 police bullets in late November. Sharpton said the march, which begins at noon, will start at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. Concerned New Yorkers will assemble to insist that there be a fair investigation into the shooting and that the officers involved be held accountable.
Just after 4:00 a.m., on November 25, Bell was leaving his bachelor party in Queens with friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield when undercover police opened fire at his car. Although all three Black men were unarmed, the officers say they were under the impression that one of them had a gun. Bell, 23, was shot four times; Guzman, 31, was shot 16 times; while Benefield, 23, was shot four times.
New York City officials expect about 12 million visitors during the holiday shopping season. If not for his untimely death, Bell and his fiancée, Nicole Paultre, would be shopping with their oldest daughter, Jada, who turns 4 on Saturday. Instead, Paultre, seeking justice for her beloved Sean, is planning to attend the rally. Sharpton, who has been advising Paultre since the shooting, expects Bell’s friends and family as well as union and political leaders to attend the rally.
“We must keep a spotlight on the case,” Sharpton told ESSENCE, “so that the prosecutor won’t do anything that will go unnoticed.”
Will rallies such as these result in justice following the shooting death of Sean Bell? What do you think the African-American community needs to do now? Click to talk about it on our boards.
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