Last night, the family and friends of Sean Bell were joined by hundreds for Bell's funeral in Queens. Bell was killed during a chaotic confrontation with police officers last weekend. The Reverend Al Sharpton spoke during the service. From the Daily News:
"We must give Sean a legacy, a legacy of justice, a legacy of fairness, not a legacy against police. We don't hate cops. We don't hate race. We hate wrong. We dislike wickedness in high places."
Then speaking directly to Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who was standing in for Mayor Bloomberg at the Bell family's request, Sharpton said, "I keep reading in the paper that y'all are looking for a fourth guy. Well, I don't believe that fourth guy exists."
People outside the church were angry and chanted "50 bullets! 50 cops!" in reference to the number of bullet fired on Bell and two friends in half a minute. The NY Times reports Bishop Lester Williams, who was supposed to marry Bell and his fiancee Nicole Paultrie but ended up presiding over Bell's funeral, asked Mos Def, who went to the funeral to pay his respects, to help disperse the crowd. Mos Def said, "If you’re young and you’re black the police are raised to treat you in a more hostile manner. They’re programmed to be hostile." Here's video of the funeral.
The police identify the fourth man as Jean "Mo" Nelson. Nelson was released after calling his lawyer, who said, "It is almost as if there are two investigations. I don't know who is authorizing their investigations, but it seems hellbent on trying to find a phantom gunman." But police reports claim that witnesses spotted a fourth man in a beige jacket near Bell's car; witnesses also told the police that the undercover officers did identify themselves before firing. For his part, Mayor Bloomberg has been less critical of the police, cautioning that more information needs to be found.
The rapper Papoose's song "50 Shots" (MP3 here) about the shooting has been getting more attention; NY Times' music critic Kelefa Sanneh calls it "unsubtle" but "proof that the protest tradition lives on." And the NY Times looks at a group of funeral mourners who have become friends because of their children were killed by the police:
It was [Maria] Dorismond’s first such funeral since her son was killed, but others, like Nicholas Heyward, whose son was killed in 1994, could count off half a dozen.
In addition to his son, 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was playing with a toy gun when he was killed by a housing officer in Brooklyn, recent victims of violent encounters with the police included Amadou Diallo, killed in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx; Malcolm Ferguson, a drug suspect whose death came only five days after officers were acquitted in Mr. Diallo’s death; Gidone Busch, a mentally ill man killed by the police in Brooklyn; Patrick Dorismond, killed by an undercover narcotics detective in Manhattan; and Sean Bell, killed in Queens when five undercover detectives opened fire on his car.
Besides Maria Dorismond and Nicholas Heyward, Katiadou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo, attended the funeral (people clapped when they saw her). Dorismond told the NY Times that her son's young daughters wanted to become police officers "so they can find out what really happened."
Top photograph of Sean Bell's casket being held by mourners by David Karp/AP; lower photograph of mourners passing out "Justice for Sean Bell" signs by Mary Altaffer/AP