Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

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Hat Tip: By Michael Wilson, NY Times

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.

Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”

Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Giving his reasoning, he said many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.

Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

The acquittals do not necessarily mean the officers’ legal battles are over. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the three men could still face disciplinary action from the Police Department, but that he had been asked to wait on any internal measures until the United States attorney’s office determines whether or not it would pursue federal charges against them.

The seven-week trial, which ended on April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the chilly November evening when Mr. Bell died, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, the judge said, quickly adding that the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors against them.

Roughly 30 court officers stood by, around the courtroom and in the aisles. At one point as he read, Justice Cooperman paused to insist that a crying baby be taken from the courtroom. Immediately a young woman who appeared to be among the Bell contingent got up and left with a baby.

The Rev. Al Sharpton accompanied Bell family members to the cemetery, and said later that they will join him on Saturday at a rally protesting the verdict. He said he had spoken to the governor and the mayor, and that he believed a federal civil rights prosecution of the officers would be appropriate.

“This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over,” Mr. Sharpton said.

He promised protests “to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take this abortion of justice lying down.” He even raised the possibility of taking protests directly to Justice Cooperman’s home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for calm. “There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father and a mother and a father lost their son.”

The mayor continued: “Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority.”

He added: “There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it.”

A subdued Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case, said at a news conference: “Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and consciously under the law. I accept his verdict, and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same.”

Commissioner Kelly, speaking in Brooklyn, would not comment on the verdict itself. But he did say that while there were no reports of unrest in response to the acquittals, the Police Department was ready should it occur.

“We have prepared, we have done some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel if there is any violence, but again, we don’t anticipate violence,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been no problems. Obviously there will be some people who are disappointed with the verdict. We understand that.”

Detectives Isnora and Oliver had faced the most charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter, with a possible sentence of 25 years in prison; felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment, with a possible one-year sentence. Detective Oliver also faced a second count of first-degree assault. Detective Cooper was charged only with two counts of reckless endangerment.

All three of the detectives, none of whom took the stand during the trial, spoke at the offices of their union on Friday afternoon. “I’ve just started my life back,” Detective Cooper said.

During the 26 days of testimony, the prosecution sought to show, with an array of 50 witnesses, that the shooting was the act of a frightened group of disorganized police officers who began their shift that night hoping to arrest a prostitute or two and, in suspecting Mr. Bell and his friends of possessing a gun, quickly got in over their heads.

“We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours,” said an assistant district attorney, Charles A. Testagrossa, in his closing arguments. “Not to risk our lives to protect their own.”

The defense, through weeks of often heated cross-examinations, their own witnesses and the words of the detectives themselves, portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a nonetheless justified confrontation, with Detective Isnora having what it called solid reasons to believe he was the only thing standing between Mr. Bell’s car and a drive-by shooting around the corner.

Several witnesses testified that they heard talk of guns in an argument between Mr. Bell and a stranger, Fabio Coicou, outside Kalua, an argument, the defense claimed, that was fueled by bravado and Mr. Bell’s intoxicated state. Defense lawyers pointed their fingers at Mr. Guzman, who, they said, in shouting for Mr. Bell to drive away when Detective Isnora approached, may have instigated his death.

28 thoughts on “Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

  1. huntingdonpost

    This is outrageous. What law was applied here? An officer fired 31 times and that’s OK? My father was a police officer. In 27 years he fired his gun precisely once in a situation in which his partner was killed. One shot.

    How many bridegrooms are out on rampages hours before their wedding? I don’t know what the legal options are but disciplinary measures are a joke. They should be sued under Sec. 1983 for depriving a man of his civil rights. Wrongful death. Something that will provide a tiny bit of justice.

  2. Nubianus

    I have some sympathy for cops in general, they have a tough job with tough calls, but this was just inexcusable. I have white, Latino and Asian friends backing us up on this, so it isn’t just a racial thing either. This was, without any doubts, an atrocious act of manslaughter against a human being, and a decent one at that, taking care of his family.

    Despite the anger we all justifiably have due to the injustice of the Sean Bell case, we need to harness this anger toward productive uses.

    If things are ever going to improve for African-Americans, we have to redouble our efforts to gain social, political and economic power here.

    Remember, time and demographics are both on our side. Whites now have a birth rate well below replacement in the USA, while the African-American population grows steadily both by natural growth and immigration from Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Even some Blacks immigrating to the USA from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. (BTW if any of you can speak Spanish and/or Portuguese, please encourage our Black brethren in Latin America, especially from Brazil, to emigrate to the USA. There’s strength in numbers.)

    I know Blacks and Latinos have often been at loggerheads, but we’re natural allies– both fighting against White oppression, with Latinos having been invaded in multiple wars by the Anglos in Florida, the Mexican-American War and Spanish-American War. Latinos lost half of Mexico when Anglos invaded in 1848, and were ethnically cleansed by Anglos so that they could start slavery in the conquered territories. Blacks and Latinos today are natural partners in the fight for social justice, both fighting for affirmative action and against discrimination. Spanish is an easy language to learn, and the more that we reach out to each other, speak some Spanish ourselves, and support our Latino brothers and sisters, the more our alliance is cemented.

    I’d say if anything, the key for us is to gain political power, and to do that, it’s best to concentrate ourselves geographically a bit more in a few states, where we will soon be the majority. On the one hand, we need Blacks throughout the country to demand our rights, but on the other, a better geographical focus is the key to political power, as it is throughout the world’s democratic countries.

    IOW, we need to have our own “North American Nubia” where we have a demographic majority and political power. Some Deep South States are obvious candidates– Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana for example, all of which will soon be Black-majority within perhaps a decade. This would be a core of our nation.

    But we can have a second North American Nubia (or North American Africana, whichever name you prefer) in the Upper Midwest– Michigan is one of the Blackest states in the Union, and much of Illinois is also strongly African-American in demographics, culture and social importance.

    Some of my homies from college have even urged conversion to Islam for African-Americans. It’s not something I’ve considered myself, though I’ll acknowledge that at least for many urban African-Americans, they’ve done quite well after the conversion. Many having been in jail or kept out of jail, they become more focused and disciplined, as fathers they take care of their Black children and care better for Black women, stay away from drugs and violence and so forth. (interesting link a friend sent to me– The Nubian Manifesto )

    IMHO there are many different personal routes we can take for empowerment, but as a group, we must stay strong and focused and, again, have enough of a geographic concentration that we can gain political power. Just as we should ally with Latinos as they become the majority in their own homelands in Southwestern states and Florida, so should Blacks ally with Muslims in Michigan (who will soon be the majority in that state).

    It’s obvious from our people’s history here, that we’ll survive only by standing up for ourselves. Political and economic empowerment are the central aspects of this.

  3. That’s why the officers elected to have a bench trial instead of a jury trial. The jurors might have voted to convict and give Sean Bell real justice.

    The judge sounds like a leftover ReThug from the Giuliani administration and ruled accordingly.

    Mike Bloomberg called it right: an innocent man lost his life at the hands of the NYPD. As the late Robin Harris would say, “Officers of the Got-Damned Law!”

    The only thing I expect from the po-po is a hard way to go and a short way to get there; which is why I do my damnest to be a law abiding citizen, whether the laws are there to abide by or not.

    This is painful, but strangely expected. Now Sean’s bride needs to call Barry Scheck and start the civil suit – maybe if the NYPD has to cut her and her daughters fat checks and trust funds, they would clean up their act.

    And the U. S. Justice department is looking for ways to clean up their politicized image after firing U. S. Attorneys for not towing the party line, but trying to do their jobs and apply/enforce the LAW. They might decide to rehab themselves by trying those NYPD officers on violating Sean’s civil rights. At least that’s what they did in the Rodney King case – Clinton did sic the Justice Department on those LAPD officers that administered that ass whipping on Rodney, and got a conviction (four actually) for violating Rodney’s civil rights.

    I think, with the exception of Theodore Brieseno, they all got hard time in the Federal pen and I think Stacy Koon just got out three years ago. Maybe we have to hope that Mukasey decides to save Bush’s “Legacy” by going after the NYPD officers ((crickets chirping)).

  4. grown black man

    While an unpopular decision, the decision to even prosecute the cops wasa political one made by rhe elected district attorney. The truth is, based on the facts, that the oficers were justified in using a force to stop a person who used a deadly weapon (a car) to injure an officer. It’s not popular, and it’s a shame someone had to lose their life, but officers had a split decision to determine whether Bell was going to run over him or not. The law is not based on hindsight, mearely what a reasonable person would do at the time.

  5. Mike aka “Grown Black Man”

    Long time no see. It’s good to hear from you. However, I do not agree. You are a career prosecutor and as such your opinion is seriously compromised. When was the last time that three black cops killed unarmed white people on the basis of unsubstantiated gang rumors and were acquitted?

  6. Rick

    hours before the verdict, for whatever reason, i put on a black suit and a black tie, as if I were dressing for a funeral instead of work.

    and, i was. the concept of new york city protecting its black citizens under the judicial system is dead to me.

  7. huntingdonpost

    This happens all too often to black men. 1 in 9 is in prison between the ages of 24-34. 1 in 154 white men are, for the same age group. We can say, well, they committed crimes and that’s why they are there. But it is so much more complicated. Many are there because of racial profiling, for non-violent crimes, for crimes defined as requiring higher penalties (they look neutral but wind up have more impact on black men). And then the icing on the cake is the shooting of black man after black man who has no weapon. If the man had a bazooka, 31 shots is excessive. If he has a cellphone, no shot can be justified. If he’s in a car and the cop thinks there’s danger, shoot the tire.

    As I said above, I am the child of a cop. My father thought the biggest problem with police is that the academies had stopped screening for anger issues. My father patrolled in the so-called race riots in a major city, and I asked him about police brutality. I was a little kid and kept hearing about it. He said, “If you can’t be spit on, called a pig, take some shouting and even a little shoving without losing your temper, you shouldn’t be a police officer. Some officers can’t control themselves and they are not good officers.”

    I never went to work with my dad so I am not holding him up as some paragon. Who knows what he did. But I know that he believed it was possible to be a good cop without using excessive violence or even very much violence at all in most circumstances. There needs to be some serious examination of cop psychology and mental fitness. Violence is a mental problem, not an attribute that should be seen in police.

  8. Cliff

    “Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006.”

    -SB

    Slavmaster: “Hot damn we got us a good set of Detective Negras to help us bring that old south back.”

    To be that scared. To be shaking in their boots, when they have a gun drawn, supposedly with some form of athletic and military training.

    What is in your head, as a black officers?

    “I’d like to apologize to the Bell family.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2008/03/19/2008-03-19_detective_marc_cooper_certain_he_fired_j-1.html

    Really?

    Not so easy, can’t get away that easy. We have to clean the WS virus out of your heads.

    Have you developed that same fear of your own people that your white partners have? What the hell in your head? When you see a black man in a car, do you think to yourself “I MUST KILL TO PLEASE MY MASTER?” What the hell is in your head?

    “He could have used his vehicle as a weapon.”

    Oh, a new tactic taught in the police academy as a justification to kill innocent black men. Ohh that is the new policy, new way.

    Being a black officer you have no idea what you’re being taught huh?

    Have not idea what those books in the massa’s academy mean huh?

    You get want to please your master cause you have on the same uniform huh?

    You have no idea you’re working to the maintain white supremacy by having the ability to kill black people without justified prosecution huh?

    A slave like me can’t kill my master without me killing the slave first huh?

    I’m not scared for my own life, I’m just scared for massa’s life, cause he coulda’ shot massa’ Oliver huh?

    http://wcbstv.com/topstories/sean.bell.911.2.683859.html

    He coulda’ used his car to run ma’ massa’ ova’, and use deadly or lethal force against my massa’ huh?

    He gotta family and wife to feed, and all the slaves should give their life to protect massa’ and his family huh?

    My police academy taught me good massa’ teachin’ to serve and protect and kill niggas huh?

    Aint no way in hell I’m going to jail cause I didn’t hang a dog, take any steroids, refuse ta’ pay my massa’ for slavery, I just killed an innocent black man because I thought he was going to kill my massa.

    Oh, now I understand, that gives me clear understanding, what hell is your head.

    Where are you at Detectives Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper?

    Detective Gescard Isnora: SHAKING IT OVA’ HERE BOSS.

    Detective Marc Cooper: SHAKING IT OVA’ HERE BOSS.

    YA’ DAMN RIGHT YOU’RE SHAKING IT.

  9. Andrea

    I wasn’t surpirsed by this but seeing it during this time of the past few months with the issues of people starting to open their eyes, I see this…this here…this is 1941’s warning all-over again.

    For years the rebellious Jews tried to warn their own that things were going to get worse. When the Jewish Intellectuals were getting on Hitler’s one last nerve, he sent out to exterminate them once and for all because they getting rattling chains and rocking the boat by trying to wake their own who were less erudite and conceptually cognizant to see THINGS (as in TIPPING POINTS).

    Well…this here…yesterday…this is a Tipping Point. This is verdict is Hitler getting pissed and realizing the intellectual class of Jews had to be shut-up because he was going to do what they were warning that he had planned in killing all Jews. He just sped up the process of what he was always planning to do and the Jewish Intellectual knew because they knew prophecy in the books (history repeats itself unless you stop it from repeating itself).

    We can keep seeing warnings and thinking that because it is not directly affecting us, that it does not have anything to do with us or will affect us. I look at everything that serious to know prophecy.

    I just shivered when I found out the news. This is extermination on another level of legalized genocide.

  10. jane doe

    Trying to compare this to Hitler and the Jews is laughable… and ironic too considering that in the African American community you can be a Nazi-sympathizer AND civil rights leader at the same time.
    At least the Bell family doesn’t have to see people celebrating and high 5ing each other like Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldmans families do. Maybe skeptical brotha can post some of those photos that show that looks of glee on the faces of so many blacks over that. Remember the tears from Ron Goldman’s sister while OJ and his supports gloated? When I saw Mr Bells fiance it brought back memories of her, but at least Mr Bells family doesn’t have to see people so laughing and dancing over the vertict.
    Remember how the black jury forewoman didn’t think the fact that Nicole once said “OJ will one day kill me and get away with it” meant anything at all?
    Remember that a recent poll showed that 40% of African Americans think OJ is innocent even AFTER he wrote a book called “If I did It” that gave a step by step description of how he would have done it… uh, if he did. 40% of blacks still don’t think he did anything wrong (except maybe marry a white woman)
    And OJ, in reference to the Jewish Goldman family said that “those people” value the lives of their own a little too much?
    Well, I think you value the lives of your baby daddy welfare cheat criminals (Sean Bell was all 3) a bit too much. Ever notice that most black men you see as martyrs (Mykel Bell, Rodney King, etc) have those qualities?
    Sharpton said justice in this case was “aborted”- same could be said for the Simpson case- and there weren’t 3 black people in the country losing sleep over it.

  11. Deyvette

    Bingo Bingo. I couldn’t have guessed that the verdict would be not guilty. I couldn’t have guessed that.
    Ye are slaves, and your refusal to believe this has not changed this fact, one little bit. Slaves are Not privy to equal justice. Because you continue to live here, and seem happy, by celebrating and and having more babies.
    ” So, now we’ll throw a few useless dollars to hush our adoptive children.

  12. Jamar

    Huntingdon states: “My father was a police officer. In 27 years he fired his gun precisely once in a situation in which his partner was killed. One shot. ”

    I say, maybe your father should have pulled the trigger a few more time. His partner might still be alive.

    Sean Bell and his gang were out looking for sex the night before his wedding. What a disgrace. He has prior convictions including possession of a weapon, was talking smack that was overheard by the police. All Sean and his boys had to do was sit quite, put their hands up and he’d be married today. Instead, they tried running and assaulted the police with their car. These boys were up to no good and we all know it.

    The young black men of our community need to start taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. Now we have Sharpton perpetuating the racial issues in this country. Every time we talk a few steps forward, men like Bell and Sharpton send us back a dozen steps.

    I don’t blame the police for shooting and protecting their own. Our young black men are the root of our issues here and they are the only ones that make this crap stop. Why are there so many young black men in jail? Because they deserve to be. They do not deserve any respect and until they earn that respect, I won’t even give it them.

    Get a grip people. We are the problem since we allow Sharpton and others like him to play off our emotions for their own financial gains. Plus we allow situations like Bell to be overplayed when we all know what the real situation was.

  13. john in california

    Jane, at first I was going to comment on the historical and statistical inaccuracies of your comment, but they are legion and if you were really interested in race and the judiciary, you would not have a hard time finding material at your local library. No, as I was thinking through that kind of comment I reread yours and was struck by the obvious and that is the glee you express in the death of Sean bell seems to exactly mirror the glee you decry in the “African American community” (whatever that is) in OJ’s not guilty verdict. Apparently you think Sean’s death is some kind of payback to the Goldman family or that one set of murderers getting off is only fair if another murderer got off. Do yourself a favor and think about who you really are and maybe read a few books by academics on the history of racism, its rationales and consequences, then maybe have lunch with a AA coworker or some other way make an effort to meet and understand some people from the African American community. I know I grew up with almost no contact with black folk even though I spent some of my childhood (in the 50’s) in the deep South. Such was the nature of American Apartheid. Luckily, My time in the Marine Corps allowed me to interact and make friends with people of many races and backgrounds. (One of the reasons I have for thinking the draft is still a good idea, the other being a healthy disrespect for the military.) And my best friend in college was a black guy from Florida, from whom I learned to play a mean game of whist even when totally stoned (but that was another life). Really, my point is you need to get out more, meet some real ‘black’ people and don’t get all your emotional impressions from the tv.

  14. Deyvette

    I meant to say Bingo to the reference of the comparison of Jews being exterminated, and the extermination of African Americans. Wake up! and smell the furnaces getting hotter. “History repeating itself unless you stop it from repeating itself.” The people of Israel marched in a circle, seeking the promised land.
    And, I do see the equivalence of an entire race being enslaved, stripped of their culture, and harboring an ounce of resentment at their oppressors “OJ verdict” when they should have lowered their gaze and be better informants, assisting in, yet another hanging, as they’d been taught. Hitler had Jewish informants were Capos.

    Here’s the Oj mess again again.
    I was sick at the killing and I couldn’t stop thinking about the horror she and Ron Goldman experienced. And her children, no mother, killed at home while we’re sleeping in the house. I’m sorry, I can’t rehash that case, because it has happend again (2007 a pregnant mother driving is shot 4x by her boyfriend who is in the back seat, her two kids are in the passenger seat and 4yr. old in the backseat with step dad.) I can’t compare a killing of certatin individuals to the extermination or enslavement of any race, not even blacks.

    Back to the topic, Harriet Tubman said, ” I could have led thousands more to freedom, but I just could’nt convince them that they were slaves.”

  15. sixseven

    White cops don’t fire 50 shots at white suspects. They exercise due self restraint. But these same white cops feel a strange liberty to fire 50 shots at a Black suspect…Sean Bell and 41 shots at another…Amadou Diallo.

    Even negro cops exercise sensible self restraint if the suspect is white because they know what will happen to their a$$ if they don’t.

    But these same self-hating, self-disrespecting cops assume the sick mindset of their white colleagues if the suspect is Black and they fire freely.

    Is that because in their minds, Black life is cheap and expendable or that they know it’s so stacked against Blacks in this society that there is a good chance that they can do it with impunity?

    After the caucus results in Iowa, I felt that for a hot minute, something was happening in the country. That a lily white state would overwhelmingly support the candidacy of a black presidential aspirant was truly refreshing. But then just as quickly, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania happened, providing me with my needed reality check.

    It is revealing that a candidate can tell a flagrant lie to the country and indeed, the world, about running to evade sniper fire and tell yet another lie to explain the first lie and still win a primary by 10 points.

    I suspect that if BO had been similarly caught, his run would have come to a screeching halt.

    So much for family values!

    (What’s wrong with me…I keep expecting fairness and a single set of rules for all players)

    SB, Rakirah and Angie, big props and much respect to you.

    I stumbled on this board a few weeks ago and have been reading silently, but feel compelled to post at this time.

    The sides are dug in and intractable. I feel a sense of hopelessness.

    God help us!

  16. sixseven,

    Welcome and thanks for commenting. As I said in my post No Preference and you echo here, some people would rather live shackled by a cacophony of lies than live in freedom and truth. Again, welcome and come back often.

  17. the following is from Huck Finn by Mark Twain

    In chapter, thirty-two of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there is a boating accident. Huck’s Aunt Sally asks if anyone was hurt. Huck then replied, “No’m. Killed a nigger” (Twain, 213). Aunt Sally then said, “Well, its lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt”(Twain, 213).

  18. jane doe

    john in california- Sorry to burst your bubble but 2 of my roomates are black and several ex-boyfriends. The idea that if someone says something that is painful to hear is racist is bullshit. There is no glee in Sean Bells death, I’m just pointing out that most civil rights activists don’t mind injustice when blacks are the ones getting away with it. Its the truth

  19. john in california

    So Jane. Ex-black-boyfriends. Hmmm. Being a divorced old white guy and not now seeing anybody (which is maybe why I have time to comment on blogs) I well know the road to true love is rocky so I will leave any reference to issues you may have with black guys unsaid, however when you state that Sean Bell was a “…baby daddy welfare cheat criminal…” and therefore you think his life is being overvalued in some convoluted comparison to the life of Ron Goldman or Nicole Simpson by the readers of this blog and civil rights leaders, I think you miss the point of that 40% who think OJ was innocent. While I tried to avoid the whole round-the-clock OJ thing, what I do remember was not glee over the deaths but many black folks thinking the LAPD, notorious for manufacturing evidence against black arrestees, had finally had its comeuppance, given to them by a black attorney. Most of the black people I know, even those who were sure he did it, said that finally innocent until proven guilty meant something. There is some kind of lawyerly dictum that exceptional cases make for bad precedent and certainly OJ’s trial was that. By the time it was over it was much less about guilt or innocence of one man, than an exposure of the deep problems of race and criminal justice in America. That those problems have not been resolved has resulted in another death, that of Sean Bell. All over the country, every day, police confront people in what may be potentially dangerous situations. We never hear about most of them because they are resolved without deadly violence. When we do hear about it is when it turns out the victim (and they are victims, not criminals) like Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo is an unarmed black guy minding his own business when he is slain by a hail of police bullets. If you really cared about justice, I would think you would want the perpetrators of these killing to answer for them, instead you seem to think OJ’s not guilty verdict, or more specifically 40% of black folks reaction to the verdict, should grant them some kind of immunity or exoneration. I know I sound condescending when I suggest you take a good look at yourself (it’s hard not to when responding to your comments) but in all seriousness, think about what you are saying and, maybe, ask your black roomees to examine this thread and ask what they think.
    Hoping you get your groove back, sincerely,
    John in California

  20. huntingdonpost

    rawdawgbuffalo, regarding Huckleberry Finn–that quotation is the reason more people should read that book. There are two books that really hit hard at slavery even though both were written post-slavery, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Huckleberry Finn. In Finn, the only person who can truly “read” the truth is Jim, the “nigger.” He is the speaker of what’s real and all of the white people, including Huck, who cares for Jim, are in varying states of delusion about freedom. I think your citation of that quotation shows how little we have progressed in some ways, because that is what is happening. Every night on the news we hear of some young black man getting shot and it disappears into the ether. This has to stop.

  21. I read a comment above blaming Mr. Bell for his own slaughter,suggesting that he was out after an illicit sexual encounter on the night in question. A classic case of blaiming the victim while excusing the true guilty ones. It doesn’t matter if Mr. Bell was after pre-marital fun on that fateful night. That DOES NOT excuse his murderers of emptying fifty bullets into him and forty-one more into his companions

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