Coordinated acts of nonviolent civil disobedience took place at six different locations across the city May 7 in a protest against the not-guilty verdict for three police officers who shot and killed unarmed African American man Sean Bell with 50 bullets — on the night before his wedding.
The actions blocked major tunnels and bridges, disrupting rush-hour traffic. More than 200 protesters were arrested and hundreds more participated.
The protests were coordinated by Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. The acts of civil disobedience are meant to be the first in a series of escalating protests.
"If you're not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you're going to have to lock up the innocent", Sharpton said.
Sharpton, Bell's fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell as well as Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield — who were shot along with Bell — were among the arrested.
Protesters participated in spirited chants of "We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell!"
"We aren't going to let our people get slaughtered". said organiser Amos Hughes. He added the only rights Black people had was "the right to remain silent".
There are plans to continue protests every week. Upon his release from jail, Sharpton said, "This is the beginning of the Sean Bell movement ... I said today would be the slow down, leading to the shut down."
[Abridged from the May 8 US Socialist Worker, http://socialistworker.org.]