Yesterday, thousands of people walked down Fifth Avenue in to protest a police shooting against three unarmed men. Sean Bell was shot to death just hours before his wedding while his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were wounded in a barrage of 50 bullets in less than a minute; undercover police claimed they saw a fourth man with a gun.
The march was organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton, with the theme "shopping for justice" as many people had come into the city to shop for holiday gifts. Sharpton wants to review NYPD policies and raise the awareness of police brutality. Protesters included Guzman and Benefield, Representatives Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner, Transit Workers Union president Roger Toussaint, City Comptroller William Thompson, Harry Belafonte, City Councilman John Liu and police brutality victim Abner Louima, who told the Daily News, "We want to make sure there are no more Sean Bells. We are not target practice."
But some shoppers from out of town didn't appreciate the protest. One woman from Maryland complained to the NY Times, "We just came here to go shopping at the American Girl store and go see the Rockettes. Now we can’t even cross the street to get our lunch." Oh, boo hoo! The Post reports that police believe 40,000 people participated in the march, which led to the police closing down much of Fifth Avenue.
Among the marchers was Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre Bell. She marched with her mother and one of her daughters with Bell. The Daily News' Michael Daly writes "she has proven herself to be as magnificent a young woman as this city has seen," based on her remarks where she did not blame every cop and hoped for justice.
Photographs of the protest by Shiho Fukada/AP; lower photograph shows the Reverend Al Sharpton, shooting victim Trent Benefield (in wheelchair), police brutality victim Abner Louima (in suit) and Bell's fiancee Nicole Paultre Bell (in yellow jacket)