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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Many Deaths of Sean Bell

An unarmed Sean Bell was killed before he was to be married by a barrage of 50 bullets fired by NYPD officers 2 years ago.

Yesterday, Sean Bell was killed again by a shot fired by the justice system of the United States... at least, this is how it felt to the woman who Sean was to marry the day after he was killed by the police.

"The justice system let me down... They killed Sean all over again, that's what it felt like to us." Nicole Paultre Bell said of the verdict which acquitted three officers yesterday. I know that's how she feels, there is no doubt in my mind about that.

To be denied justice after being harmed by someone is as if that harm was being done all over again. But when the government is the perpetrator, that harm is compounded because with that denial of justice comes a promise of yet more injustice because a power held unaccountable is a power that begs to be repeatedly abused... and that's what happens when the police get away with a wrong such as this... it only encourages more abuse.

After all, if it were a group of civilians who fired off 50 shots that murdered one and left two others wounded and they put forth the excuse that they thought the unarmed men they repeatedly fired upon were armed they would have been convicted. To apply a different standard of justice upon the enforcers of justice is an injustice to us all... and it certainly feels like murder to Miss Bell, and it feels like murder to me.

For a minute, try to imagine if you were unjustly harmed by the police and they were given a free pass, how could you ever feel safe again knowing that the people who harmed you would never face consequences for causing that harm... and would never face any justice if they did it to you again. Imagine that you are Miss Bell, knowing that the people who killed her husband-to-be will walk free without a care in the world... how would you feel?

I hope none of you ever know that feeling, of having to relive that pain over and over again, without hope for something good or just to come of such tragedy. It's a horrible and debilitating feeling, at times hopeless and all consuming, to know that those that harmed you are free to harm others and that there is nothing you can do about it. To know that those they harmed will never be given peace or closure... or the truth.

I've been through it, I know, I still feel that way every day, as if the wrong done to me was still being done anew, each and every day... and for Miss Bell's sake, I hope that they do not kill Sean Bell again in another miscarriage of justice like they did yesterday...

I pray the family and friends of Sean Bell find justice, justice and peace. For them... and for the rest of us who are forced to suffer the injustice of police misconduct alone... alone in the kind of silence and fear that only injustice can cause.

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