Monday, April 28, 2008

Sean Bell

This isn't about white or black because the officers were all different races. This is about taking ownership.

Story stolen from

Sean Bell was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution.

Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside.
Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell's friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell's car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.

What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.

Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plainclothes detectives identify themselves as police. Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified. But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting, according to their lawyers.
A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.

No gun was found near Bell or his friends.

On Friday, Justice Arthur Cooperman cleared Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora of manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell.

From L to R: Marc Cooper, Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora

Bell, 23, died in November 2006 in a 50-bullet barrage -- 31 fired by Oliver.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Like Oceans

Flying is a very humbling experience. No matter who you are or where you are from, once you step onto that plane and fasten your seatbelts, you are all equal. Every person onboard, first class or coach, passenger or crew, is immediately at the mercy of not only a giant machine but also a human. Machines and humans have flaws. It is commonly known that men folly, but at 20,000 feet there is not much room for error. But machines and humans do, in fact, have flaws, and things go wrong. The odds are against you, that’s what they say. But the odds get better when the engine fails, or you hit a storm, or the pilot isn’t really a pilot, or someone on the plane wants to bring it down… If something like that happens, then everyone on board instantly has a bond that can never be broken.
Joshua was leaving his fairly normal life for only a week. He had just moved out of his parents’ place and into his own apartment, which he shared with a close friend. He was just out of college, and just into a relationship. He loved everything about his girl. Life just seemed to be going his way recently. He was just hired to work in the PR department of a mortgage company in his hometown of Long Island, New York. They were sending him on a “business trip” to Cancun, Mexico. He knew what “business trip” meant in “business” terms. It was just an official expression for a week long “meet and greet” with the new boss. Luckily for Joshua, he played a lot of golf and smoked cigars…
Joshua got on his flight, 5018 to Cancun, at around 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon. He said goodbye to friends, family, and his girlfriend and hopped on the plane figuring he would be back in a week and could continue with his life. At 23, he was beginning to settle down. He made a steady amount of money at the firm and was ready to move on to the next phase of his life. He wasn’t sure if he was in love or if she was the “one,” but he definitely hoped so.
The trip to Cancun was a projected 6-hour flight. Joshua hated flying. As he sat down in Row 14, Seat C, he let out a sigh of relief to discover he had the window seat. Maybe this flight wouldn’t be so bad after all. Another good omen came when a man not too unlike himself sat down next to him. His name was Andy and his story was much the same. Just going down to Cancun for “business.” They started talking to make things easier for the trip and seemed to hit it off. They started talking about relationships and Joshua began talking about his girlfriend. “She’s got eyes like oceans.” Coincidentally, the plane had just left land behind and was now flying over the Gulf of Mexico. The flight didn’t have much longer. Out from underneath Joshua’s clothes, skin, and bones, came another sigh of relief.
About that time is when the plane got a little shaky. The pilot attempted to reassure the passengers, but Joshua knew something was up. The stewardess’ sat in their seats with worried looks on their faces. Looking out the window, Joshua saw nothing but the blackest clouds he had ever seen. The lights flickered and the plane rocked back and forth. On the drop down monitors that tracked the planes movements, the altitude began slipping closer to zero.
Engine failure. It went down. Fast.
The plane hit the water traveling faster than the speed of sound. Joshua tried to brace himself, but there is no preparation for an impact like that. Somehow, he lived. Huddled in a floating mass, he survived. He climbed out of the plane and onto the top. He had no idea how long it had been since the plane crashed, but the skies were clear and the sun was setting. Joshua sat on the top of the plane and watched the sunset. It was beautiful. The way it reflected, they way the clouds came in painted him a picture. Like Oceans. All he could see were his girlfriends eyes. He wanted to stare into them so bad, but all he had was a memory, a mental photograph. He wondered if he would ever get that chance.
The plane started sinking, so he was forced to paddle out into the abyss and grab a flotation device that somehow survived the wreck. Andy was dead. He floated on that device for a day. The next sunset came and to the west he saw a ship coming his way. It was not just any ship though. It was a sailboat, an enormous sailboat. Spanish flags waved off of the top. It was made of wood and he could see the cannons in the side. Suddenly the plane was gone and so was his suit and tie. The metal and steel wreckage had been replaced with splintered wood and rusted brass. His suit and tie had been replaced with a wool shirt and black pants. He was no longer holding on to an orange life vest, but to a brown piece of wood from a ship that somehow wrecked. A million thoughts crossed his mind, but he remained calm.
The Spanish ship sailed closer. He made out the name of it on the massive hull from a distance, Como Los Océanos. Maybe she came to save him, he thought. That thought was fleeting. A man in captains threads pointed a gun at him and told him to get on. He was a prisoner.
They kept him in the basement of the ship and he was treated as prisoners are. He didn’t understand so he did not speak. He was fed little and was given water even less. Within the week, he arrived in Cancun. It was about the same time he should have been returning home. He walked, more like stumbled, onto the beach. It began to rain, and the ocean reminded him of her. He looked to his left and there she was. Walking out of a hut on the beach of Cancun was a true beauty. It was his girlfriend, but instead of embracing Joshua, she embraced the man with the gun. Their eyes met and she nodded her head and mouthed the words “I’m sorry.” She turned away, speaking fluent Spanish, and he was left with a million horrible and heartbreaking emotions. All he could say was “like oceans.” She said “Wait” and turned to him, but before she could put a hand out or even scream, he was shot and killed by the man with the gun.

Written by my man WILLIAM WALLACE.