>We were all outraged when we heard the news on Friday: Three police officers were found not guilty in the shooting death of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old groom-to-be who was killed on his wedding day outside a Queens strip club.
While the afrosphere expressed disbelief at the verdict, there were some of us who had a different take on the verdict.
In this New York Times article, while the blacks interviewed expressed sympathy for Bell’s fiance and his family, they also expressed understanding of the police officer’s position.
In Harlem, Willie Rainey, 60, a Vietnam veteran and retired airport worker, said that he believed the detectives should have been found guilty, but that he saw the case through a prism not of race, but of police conduct. “It’s a lack of police training,” Mr. Rainey said. “It’s not about race when you have black killing black. We overplay the black card as an issue.”
Now that’s interesting…
Considering that two of the defendants were black, is this still a racial issue?
Even near Liverpool Street and 94th Avenue in Jamaica, the very spot where Mr. Bell was killed, Kenneth Outlaw stood and spoke not only of the humanity of Mr. Bell but of the police as well. “A cop is a human being just like anyone else,” said Mr. Outlaw, 52. “If I had to be out here, facing the same dangers the cops face, I’d be scared to death too.”
Point taken. Who can’t sympathize with police officers, facing the fact that their lives could be threatened in an instant. More:
Ayana Fobbs, 27, a pharmacy worker who lives in Jamaica, a few blocks from the Community Church of Christ, where Mr. Bell’s funeral was held, said she could identify with people on both sides of the Bell shooting. One of her cousins was killed by the police in a shooting in the Bronx in the early 1990s, she said, but she also had close friends who were police officers.
“I’m just concerned about what kind of message it’s going to send on both sides,” Ms. Fobbs said on Saturday. “The community here is going to feel like anybody is fair game, if something like this could happen to an unarmed man and nobody was held accountable. And then, with the officers, it sends a message to them that they can do these types of things and get away with it.”
Others said that had they been on a jury during the trial, they would have found the officers not guilty based on what they felt was the flawed case prosecutors put forward. Still others said that they did not know what to think, after weeks of following contradictory testimony in the news. “If I was the judge, I wouldn’t know what to do,” Paul Randall, 22, a college student, said on Thursday. “From following the case, it’s kind of hard to say one way or the other.”
Maybe the reservations or lack of collective outrage among black New Yorkers point to a sign that times have changed:
A man who approached was not there to protest the verdict. He was only walking by, on his way to pay a parking ticket around the corner. The man, Elliott Clark, 54, had seen the news of the judge’s decision on television, and though he disagreed with the verdict, he was more resigned than outraged. This was not 2000, when Rudolph W. Guliani was mayor and Howard Safir was police commissioner and the four officers indicted in the killing of Mr. Diallo were acquitted, he said.
“The times have changed,” said Mr. Clark, a case manager for H.I.V. and AIDS patients who lives nearby in St. Albans. “People have been so disappointed by the outcome of the judicial system. Every five years something crazy happens, and people are people. They move on with their lives.”
What do you make of the article? What do you make of the quotes and paraphrases of each of the characters? Do they reflect how you feel about the Bell verdict? Upon reading each of the subjects’ response to the verdict, have your feelings on the Bell verdict changed?