Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

THE SEAN BELL NOTEBOOK
Strategizing for Operation Shut Down
May 7, 2008 – D-Day (Part C)



It was lovely day, shiny with a slight coolness in the air. I call Rev. Sharpton at 7:15am. I started enthusiastically with a quote from the Bible, “This is the day---.” He continued the quote, “The Lord has made…” Together we completed the verse, “We will rejoice and be glad in it.” We were excited! We were confidant that we would succeed.

We discussed Mark Green’s attack on him for leading the Civil Disobedience. I suggested that we have a press conference tomorrow, thus giving us the opportunity to interpret our own motives and actions. Then I call Councilman Barron. I went over final plans for the day with him. He had questions regarding picture taking and finger printing in the precinct. He spoke to Rev. Sharpton. We agreed we would resist finger printing and picture taking as long as we could. TV channels 4 and 7 called. Said they would be with us. Also, National Public Radio called for a statement. I was pleased for whatever coverage we would receive. I knew most of the press would be with Rev. Sharpton, Nicole, Joe Guzman and Trent Benefied. Mr. & Mrs. Bell came by around 11:00am. They greeted the people and thanked them and said that they would not be getting arrested. They continued their journey to One Police Plaza, where Sharpton had assembled the people.

The participants started coming into the Church at 12:00noon. They joined us in our weekly Wednesday Prayer and Reflections, which occurs from 12 to 12:45. I spoke from James Chapter 1 verse 1, “Count it all joy when you are tested in different ways…” Test, I pointed out, is the road toward patience, strength, perseverance and wisdom, all necessary qualities to be all you can be and do all we can do. The scripture and reflections were most germane for the challenges that awaited us.

Then an hour and 1⁄2 of old footage from the past was shown. A one-hour video entitled, The Sermon, produced by Bob Knight, done in 1978. It captured our organizing in 1977 and 1978 in reaction to the killing of 15-year-old Randy Evans and the subsequent decision by the jury. About 2:45pm, hundreds of people had packed the Fellowship Hall and spilled out onto Atlantic Avenue.

In my remarks, I put our actions into historical context. I expounded on a defining moment – a special opportunity that comes seldom, relatively speaking, to change history. I wanted to inspire with that portion of my presentation. Then I turned to more practical instructions, which was a recapitulation of what we had gone over Saturday. Councilman Charles Barron spoke, and then the lawyers, who had agreed to be with us, gave legal instructions. Those who volunteered for arrest were signed in, instructions were given, how to line up outside of the church. Once we had completed the instruction, Councilman Barron, his wife, Inez, who is a candidate for the 40th Assembly District, and my wife, Dr. Karen, and I stepped outside of the church. It was 4pm. Standing on the stoop, I was delightfully surprised to see the long lines on both sides of the Church.

We went to the front of the line. The media people were crowded in front of us. As we began walking, TV reporters came forward for interviews. There is always a tug of war with security people whose security concern places them in front of the cameras. They pushed the cameras away. I always like to give the media, especially TV, time to do their work unhindered, especially TV. TV is visual, motion. The best way to capture the drama and excitement of a demonstration is to show it in motion.

We walked along Atlantic Avenue to Boerum Place, up Boerum Place to the Brooklyn Bridge. From our starting point, all along the way, people who stood on the sidewalk, crowded in doors of restaurants and stores, clapped their hands and shouted encouragement. Cars blew their horns and hands waved from the windows. Along Tillery Street, standing on the steps, young people shouted and waved. In Tillery Park, youths stopped playing basketball to join the express of support. Some of the people on the sidewalk joined us.

When we reached the Brooklyn Bridge, traffic going to Manhattan had already stopped. The police placed an orange-colored net in front of the Bridge. Traffic coming from Manhattan was stopped. We paused at the Bridge. It was not our intentions to block the Brooklyn Bridge although we did that, Rev. Sharpton would block the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan side. Turning away from the Bridge, we moved eastward along Tillery Street. The police realizing we would not do the arrest at the Brooklyn Bridge snatch their net and literally ran to the Manhattan Bridge.

We passed Flatbush Avenue, which ran into the Manhattan Bridge and headed toward the entrance of the BQE. Pausing at Tillery and Gold Streets, we successfully blocked the entrance to the BQE. Turning left, the police blocked the exit from the BQE allowing us to head back up Tillery Street toward the Manhattan Bridge. When we reached the Manhattan Bridge the police had already blocked the Manhattan Bridge, helping us to achieve our objective.

We stood on the Bridge until the officer speaking through a bullhorn, warned that those who refused to move would be arrested. The officer, showed his nervousness by jumping the gun. People were still marching toward the bridge. I used our own bullhorn to tell people to move to the sidewalk and the side streets. Having given directions, I put my hands behind my back to be arrested. A young officer swiftly stepped forward, forcibly jerked my arms and hands backward, while putting the cutting plastic handcuffs on my wrist. I turned, yelled in pain, “What are you doing?” He became more vigorous. Councilman Barron seeing the action stepped forward to help me. The officer who was cuffing him moved in to help his fellow officer. They began to push each other. Community officers moved in and took the two handcuffing officers away. Then began the orderly arrests.

Councilman Barron and I were last to be arrested. We wanted to make sure that all the people were gently and respectfully treated. Thousands had joined the march in Brooklyn.

To be continued…

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures, predatory lending and/or subprime lending.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ HYPERLINK "http://www.holnj.org" www.holnj.org.

On Sunday, June 8, 2008, Rev. Leah Daughtry, Pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC and CEO of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado will be the guest preacher at the 12 noon Worship Service at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue.

On June 19–20, 2008, in honor of Juneteenth, The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) will host its Annual Emancipation Day Celebration. At 12noon on the 20th there will be an Unveiling & Dedication of a Plaque marking the stop on the Underground Railroad at the Old Bridge Street Church, which served as a safe house for runner away slaves. Many invited guest speakers. A Luncheon (invitation only) will follow with Dr. Adelaide Sanford as the keynote speaker. At 7pm, there will be a musical concert, free to the public, at the House of the Lord Church featuring The House of the Lord Anointed Voices, the renowned singer, Minister Lawrence Craig, Bishop Nathaniel Townsley & the Gospel Jubilee and many others. Dinner will start at 5pm (No cost with reservation). Contact Peggy Iman Washington, the Program Coordinator, @ (718) 596-1991 or (718) 797-2184.

On Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2pm the 30th Annual Randolph Evans Memorial Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at the House of the Lord Church. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will be the keynote speaker.

On Sunday, June 29, 2008, Rev. Dawnique Daughtry-Pemberton, Pastor of the House of the Lord Church of Bergen County in Englewood, NJ will be the guest preacher at the 12 noon Worship Service at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue

NEED QUALITY CHILD CARE? – Call the Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial Daycare Center Located at 333 Second Street, (Between 4th & 5th Avenues) downtown Brooklyn, NY @ (718) 499-2066. Immediate openings in a state of the arts center.