Opponents of the proposal to rename a three-block stretch of Liverpool Street after Sean Bell — a 23-year-old who was killed by police in a barrage of bullets on his wedding day — continued to lash out against the plan even after City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve it yesterday. "A City Council that places a man who nearly ran over police officers in the same category as heroes who risk their lives for us all every day needs to no longer have the authority to do street renamings," said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-Staten Island), who according to the Post voted early in the meeting and left in protest.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) was furious that the "Sean Bell Way" renaming was lumped with 69 other far less controversial renamings including proposal to name streets after Staten Island state Sen. John Marchi and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. "It's a despicable position we're being placed in," Vallone said. "There is nothing about [Bell's death] that reflects positively on the city. He's a criminal. He was driving drunk."
But supporters of the renaming including Council Speaker Christine Quin (D-Manhattan) said that Sean Bell should be memorialized because of his role in city history and policy. "The truth is the death of Sean Bell, and the response thereafter, has caused significant change for the public policies of the city of New York," she said. "This isn't meant to be anti-police officer."' Following Council's 41-6 vote (with two abstentions), Mayor Bloomberg said he will sign into effect the "Sean Bell Way" bill so as not to "enflame the situation." Though Bell's fiance was outraged that the officers who fired 50 shots at her partner were found not guilty, she said the renaming was an important step in commemorating his legacy. “Finally, some form of justice,” Nicole Paultre Bell told the Times. “We’re glad that Sean’s death wasn’t in vain."