City Council overwhelmingly approved a plan to rename the street where police shot and killed Sean Bell, voting 41-7 (with two abstentions) in favor of the proposal, according to a Council insider. The decision clears the way for converting a three-block-long Queens strip into "Sean Bell Way" to honor the 23-year-old who died in a salvo of police bullets on the day of his wedding.
The proposal turned controversial as it reached the Council, where Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) stated: "Nothing about that tragedy is worthy of a street renaming." New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser railed against the plan today, claiming the memorial street name "reeks of two-fisted police-bashing" and that the city shouldn't honor a man who spent a "night of drunken carousing at a seedy strip club patronized by diseased hookers and low-rent junkies, rammed his car into a detective's legs, then died in a hail of police bullets."
But the renaming had the support of many elected officials including Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Councilman and Comptroller-elect John Liu (D-Queens), who noted: "This has something to do with our community embracing and using as example a young man that was on his way to doing what was right and his community rallied around him. That's what streets are named for." According to a source, Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens), Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), Vincent Ignizio (R-Staten Island), Kenneth Mitchell (D-Staten Island), Jimmy Oddo (R-Staten Island), Eric Ulrich (R-Queens), and Vallone. Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn) and Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan) abstained.
Now, the "Sean Bell Way" bill — alongside a number of other street renamings — will be sent to the desk of Mayor Bloomberg, who told the Observer he would sign it. "I have said that when a bill comes before me listing a lot of names, I will sign the bill," the Mayor said. "[R]ather than just enflame the situation, I will sign the bill."