Reverend Al Sharpton is calling on citizens of New York City to come together for a day of active protests throughout the city on Wednesday (May 7).
Sharpton and the National Action Network are organizing a citywide pray in in six locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn, in hopes of moving the United States Department of Justice to action in the Sean Bell case.
Joined by Bells fiancé, Nicole Paultre-Bell, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Benefield, Sharpton will lead the afternoon protests from One Police Plaza, the NYPD headquarter in Manhattan, starting at 3:00 PM.
Other civil rights leaders involved will be National Action Network chairman Franklyn Richardson in Harlem, NAACP leader Hazel Dukes in Tribeca, and Reverend Herbert Daughtry in Brooklyn.
The meeting points for the planned protest – 125th Street and Third Avenue; Park Avenue and 34th Street; 60th Street and Third Avenue; One Police Plaza; Varick and Houston streets; and in Brooklyn at House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, 415 Atlantic Ave are all strategically located near busy traffic areas in New York City, including the entrances to the Midtown Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, and the Triborough Bridge.
At each location, protesters will be asked to get down on their knees in prayer, leading to a citywide slowdown.
It is Sharptons intention to continue these protests on a weekly basis, leading to a citywide shutdown later this Spring.
While the call is for acts of peaceful, civil disobedience, Sharpton has indicated that demonstrators should be prepared to go to jail in protest of the April 25 acquittals of Officer Gescard Isnora, Officer Michael Oliver, and Detective Marc Cooper.
The three undercover NYPD Policemen were cleared of charges including manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault stemming from the November 2006 shooting that killed Sean Bell and left Guzman and Benefield wounded.
If you are not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess youll have to lock up the innocent, Sharpton told supporters while announcing the planned protests during a gathering at the National Action Networks headquarters on Saturday (May 4).
“Where we’re going, those that know won’t say, and those who’ll say don’t know,” Sharpton added. All they’ll know is why we’re going. And we’re going because the world must see that we’re in a climate where the justice system in this state will lock up folks who’ll be nonviolent and pray, but will not lock up police.”
Paultre-Bell, who was present at the impromptu rally, also confirmed her involvement with Wednesdays protests.
Justice wasnt done, so Im still here, said the mother of Bells young daughter. On Wednesday, I will be there. We are going to do this peacefully.
I was actually right on the block when it happened. As a matter of fact, we heard the shots, Queens rapper Graph told AllHipHop.com. Thats where we from, that side of Queens. So that could have been me and my friends as well as it was him. So when I heard the verdict, and not guilty, its like an extra slap in the face. Its almost like killing Sean again.
In my honest opinion, and if you look at both sides, he continued, what the polices story was and what Sean Bell and his friends story was: I do not honestly believe that the cops approached those young men with the intent to diffuse a situation. I believe that they walked up with their guns out, prepared to squeeze, with the intent to do harm. Im from that area, I been in those situations. I know how the cops around there get down, especially the DTs.