Today, the Reverend Al Sharpton and and the Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke to the press, alongside family members and the fiancee of Sean Bell, who was killed during a Saturday morning police shooting. At a memorial near the club where the shooting occurred, Sharpton said, "We come this morning with the family in their hour of grief. We're all family now. Not a black family, not a white family, not a Latino family, a human family."
Jackson stated, "It's not about black or white. It's about wrong and right. This is a symbol, not an aberration. Our criminal justice system is broken on black America, on young black males." The AP noted that signs were hanging nearby that said "Death to Police Brutality and Murder" and "Off the Pigs Who Shoot Our Kids."
Mayor Bloomberg has been working hard in reaching out to Bell's family members and black community leaders. After meeting the family yesterday, he said, "I tried to express my deepest sympathies for their loss,. I don’t think that any parent can understand what it would be like to lose a child until it happens, and I just pray that for most of us parents, we never find out...There’s nothing the mayor can do to bring back their son or their fiancé." And the NY Times noted the Mayor's candid remarks about the community's feelings about the police, "There were people that stood up and said we’ve made a lot of progress and there were people that stood up and said we have a long ways to go. And I think both of those groups were right on target."
The Sun had an editorial today titled Bloomberg's Blunder, faulting his decision to turn to Sharpton and characterizing the shootings as "excessive." The Post's editorial also agreed, saying "Mayor Mike needs to hold his horses," given that the police "have an explicit right to use deadly force if they are in reasonable fear of their lives." Mayor Bloomberg has been in a tough position - trying to stake out a new ground in being receptive to community concerns while still keeping faith in his police department. How do you think he's doing?
And Bell's father William spoke to WABC 7 yesterday: "It don't matter to me what color the cops are ... my son is dead ... I don't want that to happen to no other kid, I don't care if they're black, white or whatever."
Photograph of Sharpton, flanked by Bell's fiance Nicole Paultrie (lower left) and Bell's mother Valerie Bell (lower right) with Jackson and the Reverend Hubert Daughtry (right) and Jackson (upper left) by Adam Rountree/AP