The Rev. Al Sharpton made good on his promise of civil disobedience and a vow to “shut this city down” in response to the acquittal of three New York police officers in the shooting death of Sean Bell by leading a protest in rush hour traffic yesterday.
Along with hundreds of supporters—including Bell’s widow, Nicole Paultre-Bell, and mother, protesters blocked entry to several of the city’s busiest bridges. The demonstrations took place at Queensboro Bridge , the Triborough Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Holland Tunnel and the Queens Mid-town Tunnel.
According to a report by the New York Times, the largest bloc of demonstrators protested outside of police headquarters in Manhattan .
216 people, including Sharpton, the other two victims in the shooting, and Paultre-Bell were arrested during the peaceful demonstration.
While other high profile police killings in the New York area have been met with protests, advocates say they will not stop until justice for Sean Bell is served.
“We’re going to keep coming until we get federal indictments. It’s wrong,” one man told the Associated Press.
Even drivers caught up in the traffic jam seemed supportive, and not too upset at the delays.
“I disagree with doing anything illegal, but, hey, this is what makes America great,” Aaron Hanson told the AP while waiting to get into a tunnel. “If this is what people really need to do to make a statement, it’s what they should do.”
Sharpton and Bell’s relatives are scheduled to meet with New York City Governor David Paterson today.
Despite the acquittal, the NYPD has not ruled out disciplinary action against the officers.
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