The City and Al Sharpton Gear Up for Verdict in Bell Trial

Michael Oliver and Al Sharpton
Photo: Getty Images

Today the Post reports that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is not allowing officers to take any unscheduled time off over the next four days, so there will be an extra strong force in the city in case there is rioting or violence after the verdict is handed down in the Sean Bell trial tomorrow. Explains the tabloid:

If Queens Supreme Court Judge Arthur Cooperman acquits the detectives for unleashing the barrage that killed Bell on Nov. 25, 2006, demonstrations could resemble those that followed the 2000 acquittal of the four white cops who fired 41 shots at unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo. At the time, about 100 people were arrested for participating in various violent protests throughout the city.


Over at the Daily News, though, columnist Errol Louis spoke with several black community leaders, who assured him that no individuals or groups that they knew of were planning to take any action, regardless of the verdict. Which is comforting — the end of this ordeal will be painful enough, without further agitation of the public and Bell's family. "If Friday passes peacefully, most media will thank Bloomberg, Kelly and the NYPD," writes Louis. "But we should also be grateful to a political movement that, like its leaders, has changed and grown wiser over the years."

Still, one such leader is not willing to let the issue go so easily: Al Sharpton yesterday compared the Sean Bell trial to that of Emmett Till, the black man who was killed in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. It's an incredibly charged parallel to draw — the results of that trial (Till's murderers were acquitted) were a huge catalyst for the civil-rights movement in America. It seems like after the verdict, Al Sharpton will be the one to watch, not community groups. With a platform as large as his, the way he frames the trial's outcome may define the way it is handled by the city.

ALARM 'BELL' SET [NYP]
Cops gearing up — for nuthin' [NYDN]
Rev. Al: Freeing Bell cops would be verdict worthy of Old South [NYDN]
Related: A Bad Night at Club Kalua [NYM]