Anger, Anguish, Calm Follow Acquittal.

Sean Bell's parents Valerie and William Bell
Sean Bell's parents Valerie and William Bell

And God said let there be peace.

Thus, in the face of anguish most would find unimaginable, the family of Sean Bell and the people of Queens County gathered early Friday to share solidarity as much as to point fingers.

Tensions ran high outside the State Supreme Court in Queens after Justice Arthur Cooperman rendered his stunning acquittal of New York City detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora, and Marc Cooper. But, then, that was to be expected when three veteran lawmen are completely absolved and exonerated in the death of a young man who died in a hail of unreturned gunfire on an otherwise peaceful November night. Tensions were unavoidable.

Groom-to-be and father of two, Sean Bell, 23, died on what was to be his wedding day on Thanksgiving weekend, 2006. Tears flowed in Queens on Friday as freely as the bullets flew that dreadful night. Chants of "No Justice, No Peace," and "Murderers" seemed to stretch for miles, often drowning out both impromptu and planned demonstrations. One poignant scene played out after another.


Just as Pat Lynch, the outspoken President of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, began to rant about how the verdict sends a message to officers everywhere that they will be fairly treated for confronting all the challenges they face in trying to protect and serve, a rendition of KRS One's legendary 'Who Protects Us From You?' began to blare from the nether regions.

"My heart cried out for justice, but my experiences had prepared me for this moment," chimed the Rev. Herbert Daugherty of Harlem.

In time, William and Valerie Bell, the parents of Sean, and Nicole Paultre Bell, the woman he was hours away from wedding, limped from the courtroom, clearly shaken by what had transpired.

They said nothing as they made their way, hand in hand, through droves of equally stunned supporters. But there are times when those who say the least actually reveal the most. Their look said it all: Anguish. Emptiness. Anger. The justice they sought had not been rendered. They could choose to rail against the system. Instead, they quietly just walked away.


Glenn Minnis is a New York writer.

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