Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is there any difference between Zionist Racism and U.S. Racism?

Both represent White Power to Kill any Person of Color, Anywhere, at Any Time

"Bell verdict stirs up memories of Amadou Diallo"

By Ben Simon and Alex Lang
(Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, New York)

Three Queens police officers who fired over 50 shots at Sean Bell and two friends were found not guilty on April 25, evoking memories of a similar incident in 1999 for some Bronx residents.

Owuse Matthew, a resident of the Bronx, who came from Ghana in the late 1990s, remembers the Amadou Diallo confrontation.

Diallo, a 22-year-old born in Guinea, was shot in front of his Wheeler Avenue apartment by police when they mistook his reaching for his wallet as a move to a gun. The officers involved in the Feb. 4, 1999 case were acquitted, but Diallo’s mother received a $3 million settlement on Jan. 6, 2004.

. “It’s the same incident,” Matthew said.

Sean Bell was killed on his wedding day, Nov. 25, 2006. Bell and two friends were leaving the Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica, Queens, where Bell had his bachelor party. A confrontation with police occurred when the group left the club.

Matthew recalls the rallies by the West African community after the 1999 shooting and said it was similar to the Bell incident.

“It is kind of strange,” he said. “He didn’t have a gun. He wasn’t a threat. There should be a punishment.”

NYPD Peer Support Counselor Michael C. Blot, however, believes the two cases have different circumstances. He said the Diallo incident happened on the victim’s way home, while Bell was in a situation that could have called for police intervention.

“I would not say (the cases are the same),” said Blot, who has lived in the Bronx for the past 40 years. “These people were in an environment conducive to police action. Diallo is an incident that should have never happened.” Blot said he was upset with the Diallo verdict, but thought the Bell verdict was “justified.”

He said that after seeing the facts in the Bell case he thought the police should not be guilty of criminal charges. “The cops may have panicked, but they probably had reason to panic” he said. “I am sorry for the Bell family. They lost a son. But I don’t think the cops meant to kill anybody. They are doing their jobs. They’re not perfect.”

Many others disagreed with Blot and expressed outrage over Supreme Court Judge Arthur J. Cooperman’s not guilty verdict, which was issued shortly after 9 a.m. on April 25.

“I don’t think the verdict was right,” said Natalie Alonzia, a Bronx resident. “I think there should be some kind of time. There should be justice for the Bell family. It makes you think the police can shoot first and ask questions later.”

Alonzia wasn’t the only person outside of the Bronx Courthouses who disagreed with the ruling.

“(The verdict) sucks. They didn’t need that many shots. They fired 16 rounds, reloaded then fired more,” said Jose Lopez.

Officers Michael Oliver, Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Copper were found not guilty of criminal charges in the death of Bell.

Oliver, who fired 31 times and Isnora, who fired 11 times, faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter, felony assault, and reckless endangerment. Cooper, who fired four times, faced up to a year in jail if convicted of reckless endangerment. The officers still face departmental disciplinary action.

Isnora testified in the grand jury that he believed one of Bell’s friends, Joseph Guzman, was getting a gun from Bell’s car. Bell, Guzman, and Trent Benefield were in the car when the police say they approached the vehicle and identified themselves as officers. The prosecution, however, alleged that the officers did not identify themselves. Bell then tried to drive away as the officers began shooting at his car.

No guns were found in Bell’s automobile.

The case is another reason for people to remember that they have to be careful around the police, said Mathew, the West African immigrant.

“They are supposed to be peace makers,” Matthew said. “If you are a peace maker, you don’t shoot like that and kill.”

Lopez said he could have understood the police’s point of view if there was a shootout. But, he thought that they used excessive force. For him the case is a reminder that it all can be taken away in a moment.

“It could happen to anybody,” said Lopez. “It could happen to you.”