Call to Action: Demand an independent investigation into Sean Bell’s death

In Civil Liberties, Netroots, New York City, Policing, Progressive Politics, Race on November 29, 2006 at 5:08 pm

I’ve had a hard time finding information about protests and other actions surrounding the police murder of Sean Bell in Queens this past weekend. Luckily, our very own Thoyalil forwarded me a link to an online action being conducted by Color of Change.

The action is an online letter writing campaign (MoveOn style) to demand that the city allows for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor, as opposed to the DA prosecuting in this case, with the worry that DA’s are too closely tied to the police dept.

All you have to do is fill in your info and a pre-deisgned letter will be forwarded to the appropriate NYC depts. A copy of the letter is below:

Dear <Recipient>,

In the wake of Sean Bell’s tragic death this weekend, there is a burning desire for answers, and for justice, in New York City and across the country. We believe that justice can only be served by appointing an independent, special prosecutor with no ties to New York’s law enforcement community, and we are writing to urge that you do so.

Without an independent prosecutor, the investigation into Sean Bell’s death will be compromised by an inherent conflict of interest. District Attorneys regularly collaborate and work with police officers, and they should not be asked nor expected to conduct an investigation into potential wrongdoing by their friends and co-workers.

In meeting with the family and calling 50 shots by the police “unacceptable,” Mayor Bloomberg’s response to Sean Bell’s senseless killing was heartening. But it seems as though the mayor missed the point: he did not publicly acknowledge systemic issues that caused the shooting in the first place. The last few years have witnessed an increase in civilian complaints against the NYPD for harassment, racial profiling, beatings and false arrests against people of color in New York City. The systemic issues causing this pattern of police brutality cannot be addressed by an investigation led by someone close to the NYPD.

Too many unarmed Black men have died at the hands of the NYPD to deny that there’s a serious systemic problem. The NYPD is a force of over 37,000 uniformed officers. It’s larger than some small towns. We would never expect a town to simply police itself. But the truth is that no one is policing the New York City Police Department. In any large organization without adequate checks and balances, one can expect the kinds abuses and corruption that we’re seeing with the NYPD.

External oversight is desperately needed to prevent future tragedies like this one. Appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Sean Bell’s death is a necessary first step, but it should not be the last. I urge you to make sure that justice is served in the case of Sean Bell by insisting on the appointment of a special prosecutor.


[your name here]

One warning: When I did it, I thought that the Comments box on the side was for comments in addition to the letter. When my letter came through, it seemed to only include my comments (which were meant to be supplemental).

  1. I think an investigating grand jury should be convened. No appointment necessary.

  2. […] Update: Bigdaddychris writes about an online letter writing campaign to ask (demand) appointment of a special prosecutor. My suggestion (in his comments) is for an investigating grand jury to be convened. […]

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