It was drizzling when I arrived at 1:15pm at Congressman Meeks' office
in Jamaica, Queens. The media people had lined against the building.
It seemed that every camera in the world was present. Upstairs on the
second floor, Sharpton and the Bell family and supporters had already
arrived. They were gathered in Congressman Meeks’ campaign office.
We waited for Congressman John Conyers who was to fly in from Washington,
DC. It was about 3:30pm before he finally arrived.
During the interval, there was conversation regarding the Judge’s
decision, an action plan and analyses of the political climate. The
climate moved from sadness to anger to moments of laughter. It is always
interesting to me that people of African Ancestry in their saddest moments
can still find humor. I’ve come to believe, it is an item in our
survival kit. The Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like a
medicine.” We found humor in the lunch that was served. There
were little wrapped sandwiches, green salad, water and soda. Rev. Sharpton
was quick to point out that when we come to the National Action Network,
we get chicken and greens and macaroni & cheese. He said he would
talk to Congressman Meeks to see about increasing his budget so he can
serve real food.
Congressman Charlie Rangel arrived, greeted the family. Also Congress
Towns, Serrano, Nadler and Clarke, all of them expressed their sympathy.
When Congressman Conyers arrived, he was very relaxed. He was wearing
a brown suede jacket, an opened collar blue shirt and tan trousers.
He seemed in good health. Congressman Rangel gave the appearance of
one who was gallantly striving to recuperate from ill health.
Congressman Conyers assured the family that he would do all that he
could. In fact, he said he was just on the phone with the US Attorney
General Michael Mukasey. The Attorney General told him that he would
issue a statement.
As we arose to go to a larger conference room, Congressman Conyers’
staff person brought the Attorney General’s statement. Copies
were made and disseminated to all. The statement read:
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO REVIEW THE SHOOTING OF SEAN BELL AND OTHERS
WASHINGTON – The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department
of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern
District of New York, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York
field Division, announced today that in light of the acquittals of three
New York City police officers in State Supreme Court in Queens, N.Y.,
they will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances
surrounding the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Sean Bell and two others
that resulted in the death of Mr. Bell. The Civil Rights Division and
the United States Attorney’s Office have been monitoring the state’s
prosecution of this case and, following the review of all the evidence,
will take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable
violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes. The Department
can make no further comment on this case at this time.
Sitting around the long conference table were Congress Members Rangel,
Conyers, Towns, Meeks and Clarke. State senator Malcolm Smith, Borough
Presidents Queens & Bronx and Rev. Sharpton and the bell family.
The meeting opened with Congressman Meeks introducing everybody and
thanking Conyers for coming to New York. Rev. Sharpton then recited
the incident of the shooting of Sean Bell, Joe Guzman and Trent Benefield.
Point by point, he put forth the Judges’ reasoning for the not-guilty
verdict and showed the weakness and the illogic of the Judge’s
argument. He was persuasive in urging Congressman Conyers to use his
influence with the US Attorney General for an investigation and hopefully
a conviction on the violation of Sean Bell, Guzman and Benefields’
Congressman Conyers responded that he would do all that he could. He
reiterated that he had already been in touch with the US Attorney General
and would continue to monitor the case. Congressman Rangel expressed
his outrage at the decision of the Judge. The attorneys, Michael Hardy
& Neville Mitchell, argued the legalities that were violated or
disregarded in the Judge’s decision.
During the meeting, Senator Hillary Clinton called in. She was put on
speakerphone. She offered her sympathy to the family and said she would
contact the US Justice Department regarding the violation of the Civil
Rights of Sean Bell, Trent Benefield and Joe Guzman. She was prepared
to do all that she could to be helpful.
The family members spoke briefly. All expressed gratitude to Congressman
Conyers and to all of the people present.
In my remarks, I stated that, “As the old man of the movement,”
I paused for effect, and then said, "I’m talking about me
not you Congressman Conyers.” To which Congressman Rangel said,
"That's why I kept quiet.” There was laughter around the
room. I repeated my 50 years in the struggle. This was a unique time.
We’ve got two chairpersons of the most powerful committees in
Washington seated here. I reminded Congressman Conyers that he came
to New York three (3) times in 1986. I expressed the hope that this
would be the last time that we would be gathered around a table responding
to a police killing of innocent people.
After the meeting, we went downstairs for a Press Conference. Congressman
Meeks again opened the press meeting. Congressmen Conyers, Rangel and
Nadler and Rev. Sharpton spoke to the press.
Leaving the Press Conference, we went to the Kalua Club. As we disembarked
from our vehicles, the rain came down ferociously. Nevertheless, we
completed the mission, which was to walk Congressman Conyers from the
Kalua Club to the place where the police officers riddled the car with
bullets. With Joe Guzman leading the way and explaining what happened
that morning, we walked the block, turned the corner, cross the street
where the car stopped and Sean Bell died.
Mrs. Bell who seemed to have faltered was asked by her husband did she
want to go further? She nodded yes, gathered her strength, leaning on
her husband’s arm, moved toward the site where her son was killed.
Returning to our cars, we drove away from the scene, drenched from the
torrential down pour.
The gall of the police department was exhibited in Detective Paladino
who came to the death scene to confront Congressman Conyers about meeting
with him. He is reported to have said, “I like to meet with you
regarding the facts of this case.” Mr. Paladino could have used
the usual channels of communication, i.e. telephone, email or mail to
request a meeting. His utter disregard for decency and contempt of the
Bell family were blatantly manifested. Here he was intruding upon the
death scene where a grieving family was reenacting the death of their
loved one, demanding a meeting. Is it any wonder why police officers
treat black people with contempt and violence? But we shall continue
to fight back until police violence ends.
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
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 @
On Monday, May 12, 2008, 5pm – 7pm, join Rev. Daughtry and the
members of NRLAA on a March & Rally in Support of Darfur. At 5:00pm,
we will assemble at the Chinese Mission and march from there to the
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.