My memory of Sean Bell was taped to a brick wall on Liverpool Street in Queens. It was a picture of him in a baseball uniform. It was just a few days after he was killed by the New York City Police Department, but the photo was already wrinkled by the rain and cracked by the wind.
It has since turned to dust just like the justice we stood for and marched for and fought for in the following days and weeks.
We have seen lots of pictures in the past year. We have seen Bell with Nicole Paultre-Bell, who he was supposed to marry just a few hours after the police filled his car and the whole neighborhood with 50 bullets. We have seen him with his daughters Jada – who misses her father – and Jordyn – who wasn’t even old enough to remember him. We have seen him with his mother and father and his friends and his teammates.
We have seen everything, but justice for the brutal way he died.
Reverend Al Sharpton led a few hundred people in an overnight vigil to mark the anniversary of Bell‘s death. Sharpton is the only man who stands up for everyone in this city and it’s time for more of us to stand with him. Then maybe someday there are no more kids gunned down in the streets.
I will always carry the memory of Sean Bell the pitcher, who won 11 games with a 2.30 ERA and 97 strikeouts in his senior year at John Adams High School in Ozone Park.
And I will never forget the 50 bullets because there will be 50 more with another name on them if we don’t keep standing and marching and fighting for justice.