Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”



Activities and Reflections related to the Bell Case
By Rev. Dr. Herbert D. Daughtry, Sr.

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 to participate.

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.