Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

A Father’s Day March and Rally in Remembrance of Sean Bell


On Saturday, June 14, 2008, marches and rallies in at least 2 boroughs in New York City took place. The rallies were called for by Bishop Lester Williams, Pastor of the Bell family. It was during a rally at the National Action Network headquarters (NAN) on Saturday, May 24, 2008, that Bishop Williams informed us that with the consent of the Bell family, these borough rallies and marches should be implemented. The announcement was made on Rev. Sharpton’s radio program. Afterward in the office of Rev. Sharpton, we further refined and expanded the idea. There would be a place of assemblage at 11am then a march to a site where the rallies would take place – both places would be determined by the leadership in each borough. Bishop Williams would take Queens. I would do Brooklyn. The leadership in other boroughs was to be decided. In the meeting were Bishop Williams, Attorney Michael Hardy, Mr. Bell, Rev. Sharpton and I. In addition to the marches and rallies, 3 other actions were discussed:

Traffic tie-up by the bike riders. (Which took place on May 30th)

Civil disobedience by elected officials. Both of these actions were scheduled the same week. I suggested that the civil disobedience should take place the week after the tie up, thus, continuing to keep the pressure on.

All-star game disruption. Rev. Sharpton suggested an action at the all-star game, which is scheduled for July 15th. It marks the 75th year for the games. Mayor Bloomberg and the major league commissioner, Bud Selig, announced that the games would be played at Yankee Stadium. Sharpton is reported to have said later, that the action “ would be very dramatic.” He did not indicate what the action would be. It would be a symbolic gesture. Sean Bell was an excellent baseball player, with aspirations of becoming a professional.

The following weeks we continued to meet and plan. We sharpened tactics that were already planned and brainstormed in search of new and different actions. Evaluation and planning meetings were/are Saturday, 11am at NAN and Thursday, 7pm at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

From the day of civil disobedience, May 7, 2008, to the Father’s Day march and rally, various actions were implemented in the name of Sean Bell. It is questionable whether the Bell family sanctioned all of these actions. Among the notable actions was the Tri-Level Legislative Task Force that includes the Bell family, co-chaired by Representative Gregory Meeks and state Senator Malcolm Smith. On Sunday, June 8, 2008, at a press conference at City Hall, a report on “Improving Public Confidence in Law Enforcement in our Criminal Justice System,” was introduced. The 32-page report underscores 15 suggestions that the Task Force demands implementation by the New York Police Department. These suggestions include, Money for police training, drug testing of officers, video tapping of police during questionable incidences, legislation to authorize state attorney general to investigate and prosecute alleged criminal offensive committed by police officers in the performance of their official duties. Also they want the Divisions of State Police to protect a crime scene where allegations of police abuse are involved.

On Friday, June 13, 2008, State Senator Eric Adam held a rally at Lafayette Church in Brooklyn. The report was highlighted to a crowded church.

Another group, the Harlem Revolutionary Club, marched through Harlem on Thursday. The stated objective was to conduct weekly marches every Thursday throughout the city. They have held rallies in Union Square and then marched to City Hall. The most dramatic march was throughout Jamaica Queens. Another group, the Street Organizers, have also marched through Harlem and held rallies at Madison Square and the theater district.

On Saturday, June 14, 2008, our march and rally started at the House of the Lord Church. We gathered at 10am. As is our custom, prior to the commencement of our march, there are speeches instructions, videos, DVDs of past struggles, events and programs, all designed to educate and motivate. We departed the church at 11:30am marching along Atlantic Avenue making a right on Boreum Place or Brooklyn Bridge Blvd. As we marched, we shouted the name of Sean Bell, “What do you want? Justice, When do you want it, now!” “No justice, No peace.” We ended up at the Borough President Plaza and held our rally at Columbus Circle, a small cement enclosed circle with trees and shrubbery and flowers. Behind us was the Brooklyn Borough President’s office; in front of us was the Saturday’s Farmers Market, primarily of fruits and vegetables. To our right was the Brooklyn Supreme Court. It is the main reason that we chose this site. We wanted to call attention to the injustice in the Criminal Justice System.

Councilman Charles Barron and I were the speakers. Councilman Barron said, “The football player Michael Vic was sentenced to jail for dog fighting, Wesley Snips was convicted and sentenced for tax evasion, yet, police officers killed Sean Bell and wounded Trent Benefied and Joe Guzman and they are freed. They were justified. Where is the justice?” After recounting a list of police killings across the years, I related how May 7th, I was brutally arrested even though I had come to be arrested. This was done with the world watching, (the audience nodded signifying that they had seen the action on television). Can you imagine what happens to young black men who the police think have acted criminally in Bed Stuy, say around 3am in the morning? Also, I pointed out how a detective broke into a walk that was being conducted from the Kalua Club to where Sean Bell was killed. Guzman was showing and telling Congressman John Conyers how it all happened. The Bell family was present along with supporters and elected officials. It is as though this officer had broken in a funeral procession. He could have communicated with the Congressman via email, telephone, regular mail, or fax, he chose, rather, to disrupt a grieving entourage with his presence. (Police officers did meet with Congressman Conyers later.) Both these actions, I emphasized, demonstrate dramatically, the insensitivity and utter disrespect for black humanity by members of the Police Department.

While the crowd was small, the quality was large. We attracted a lot of passersby’s and shoppers. We returned to the church, evaluated our actions and considered what we would do next.

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 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 Thursday, June 19, 2008, @ 7pm, Dr. Adelaide Sanford will be the keynote speaker at our Timbuktu Learning Center regular Thursday night session held at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn.

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.