A remarkable sight
James Estrin/The New York Times
Protesters Denounce Police Killing
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
A protest march cut a solemn swath through crowds of Christmas shoppers and the joyous mood of the holiday season in Midtown Manhattan yesterday in a rebuke to the police for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in Queens on his wedding day last month.
Three weeks after Sean Bell was killed and two friends were wounded in a hail of 50 police bullets, a coalition of civil rights groups, elected officials, community leaders, clergymen and others marched down Fifth Avenue and across 34th Street in a “silent” protest that sputtered scattered chants, but was largely devoid of shrieks, speeches and most of the usual sound-and-fury tactics of demonstrations.
Billed as a “Shopping for Justice” march and led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the army of protesters, many carrying placards, moved grim-faced between hordes of holiday shoppers and tourists clogging the sidewalks of two of the city’s busiest commercial arteries.
The police had set up metal barricades to confine the marchers to a single traffic lane, but the throng quickly swelled beyond expectations and the barricades were shifted to widen the line of march to four of the five lanes on Fifth Avenue and five of the six on 34th Street. Traffic on side streets leading to the march was halted as the protesters swept on.
A sampling of shoppers found many against the protest. “We just came here to go shopping at the American Girl store and go see the Rockettes,” said Cherrie Ostigui, 38, of Odenton, Md. “Now we can’t even cross the street to get our lunch.”
Steve Diomopoulos, 22, a student from Livonia, Mich., called it “a weird time to be doing this,” and added: “It’s an inconvenience to people like myself who came from out of town and want to get some Christmas shopping done. It’s almost like a hostile atmosphere. I don’t think that’s what people came here to see.”
But Seleah Bussey, 22, a Brooklyn College student, said, “I think it’s good because it’s a tourist area and tourists need to know what’s really happening.”
Mr. Sharpton, who called the Queens shooting a case of excessive force, said the march was a moral appeal to the city to change police policies.
Besides the complaints of annoyed shoppers, the march generated two negative responses that were aimed at Mr. Sharpton.
Before the march, Steven A. Pagones, a former assistant prosecutor in Dutchess County who won a defamation suit against Mr. Sharpton and two others in 1998, showed up near the marchers’ rendezvous point.................
“I want people to understand that for years he’s made reckless allegations in furtherance of his own agenda,” Mr. Pagones said of Mr. Sharpton.
Michael J. Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, also cited Mr. Sharpton’s role in that matter. “I think it’s all about credibility, something the Rev. Al had forsaken a long time ago in the Tawana Brawley case,” Mr. Palladino said. “He’s trying to deny our police officers their civil rights and due process. But in the end, a grand jury will hear the evidence and they’ll come to a decision.”
The protesters, many of whom arrived in buses from Queens, Brooklyn and elsewhere, were joined by Representative Charles B. Rangel, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., and other politicians; by the singer Harry Belafonte; by leaders and members of the N.A.A.C.P.; the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network; and relatives and friends of Mr. Bell, Mr. Guzman and Mr. Benefield.
The group included Mr. Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre, who has taken the surname Bell, and one of their two children, Jada, 4, and Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant sodomized with a broomstick by a police officer in a station house nine years ago. Mr. Benefield rode in a wheelchair, but Mr. Guzman, shot numerous times, remained at a rehabilitation center.
Palladino is an especially stupid man. Pagones didn't say shit when Sharpton ran for president, now he has something to say. Too bad for him and Palladino, most of the protesters think he got paid for raping Tawana Brawley. Bringing him out only has one effect, to enrage people. They think he's a criminal who raped a little girl, lied and got paid for it.
Now, that isn't my opinion, but the fact that opinion is out there and matters, should been factored in. And it wasn't. The city has changed, and the police unions don't get that. I'll discuss more of that later, but for now there is one central fact, they marched down fifth avenue without a permit.
Bloomberg and Kelly have dicked around marchers since 2003. When United for Peace and Justice wanted a similiar march, they were offered the West Side Highway. Then refused the use of the Great Lawn. Leslie Cagan never got a straight answer from City Hall, They have terrorized Transportation Aletrnatives.
When the unions took over the streets, arrests followed.
But this time, Sharpton, flanked by the city's unions and minority leaders, said they were going to march down 5th Ave. No one asked about any permits.
And that is going to make a difference.
posted by Steve @ 8:01:00 PM