May 7, 2008 – A Defining Moment
On May 7, 2008, there will be massive tie-ups across the city in which
the organizer's objective is to shut the city down. It is a reaction
to the police killing of Sean Bell and the wounding of Trent Benefield
and Joe Guzman and the subsequent decision of Judge Cooperman to justify
the shooting. The three men were in their car and driving away from
Club Kalua where they had had a bachelor’s party. They were unarmed.
Sean Bell was to be married a few hours later that day.
A defining moment is a time that is life transforming or history making
or world changing. In other words, life will not be the same. Dr King
used to cite the German word – to describe a great moment or time.
It is Zeitgeist. In the Bible it is called a Cairos Time – meaning
God’s time. A special time ordained by God. In our history, 1863
when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed was a defining moment.
So were the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which abolished slavery,
gave former slaves citizenship and the right to vote consecutively.
The 13th Amendment was dated 12/06/1865, the 14th Amendment was date
7/09/1868 and the 15th Amendment was dated 2/3/1870.
The Supreme Court Decision – Plessy vs. Ferguson, 1896, legalizing
segregation; the Supreme Court Decision – Brown vs. the Board
of Education, 1954, which reversed the court’s decision of 1896;
1955 Rosa Parks sat down, went to jail, a bus boycott was called for
365 days, ushering in the Civil Rights Movement; 1963, the March on
Washington; 1966, Stokley Carmichael a/k/a Kwame Ture screamed "Black
Power" into the sultry summer in Mississippi; 1945, 200 leaders
of African Ancestry met in Manchester, England to plan for the liberation
of the African continent; all of the above were defining moments. A
defining moment forces people to make a decision to participate or not
It has been said, there are four kinds of people. There are those who
watch things happen, there are those who try to stop or delay things
from happening, there are those who make things happen and there are
those who ask what happened. A defining moment put people into one of
the above categories.
Dr king used to oft cite the story of Rip Van Wrinkle, who as we know,
slept for 40 years. Dr. King used to say when Rip went to sleep, King
George ruled America; when he woke up George Washington was the President.
On May 7, 2008, people will have to make a decision. Hopefully, the
decision will be to be involved in some way. For too long, policemen
have killed unarmed men, women and children of every age. For an example,
on August 14, 1972 Ricky Borden, 11 years old, was killed in Staten
Island. On April 28, 1973, Clifford Glover, 10 years old, was killed
in Jamaica Queens. In 1974, Claude Reese, 14 years old, was killed in
Brooklyn. On November 27, 1976, Randy Evans, 15 years old, killed in
Brooklyn. Arthur Miller, 35, June 14, 1978, Brooklyn, NY, Louie Bias,
August 1979 killed in Brooklyn, Elizabeth Magum, 8/79, Brooklyn. Eleanor
Bumpers, 1984, Bronx. And then in more recent times – Amadou Diallo,
1999, Patrick Bailey, 1997, Patrick Dorismond, 2000, Timothy Stanberry,
2004 and the list goes on and on.
In light of the above, is there any one who can blame us for taking
dramatic action and is there any one, of good will, who can sit on the
sidelines? I know that I am far with in the mark when I say; if black
officers had killed Italian children there would be an upheaval in the
city. If black officers had killed unarmed Irish women, there would
be pervasive violent reaction. In fact, when police officers attempted
to arrest members of the Hasidic community on their holy day or when
police officers rumored to have roughly handled members of the said
community, the precincts were torned up and no arrests were made. It
is a sad commentary upon people of African Ancestry that we have never
been able to stop policemen, the people we pay to protect us, from killing
innocent men, women and children of all ages.
Dramatic action is long overdue. We are asking people to meet us at
six (6) sites at 3:00pm
Site A: 125th Street & Third Avenue
Site B: Third Avenue & 60th Street
Site C: 34th Street & Park Avenue
Site D: Varick & Houston Street
Site E: One Police Plaza at 1 Center Street
The 6th site or Site F is The House of the Lord Church. We are asking
people to meet us at 2:00pm for a time of reflection, analyzes and prayer.
Then on Thursday, May 8, 2008, at 6:00pm, we will return to the Church
for evaluation and planning for the next action. It is said that the
number 7 is the number of perfection. Let us hope that this time we
can perfect an action that will end police abuse, misconduct and killings.