Anniversary vigil planned for Sean Bell

Family, friends and members of the southeast Queens community will remember the one-year anniversary of Sean Bell’s death with an overnight vigil beginning at 11 p.m. on Saturday, November 24 and culminating with a memorial service led by Reverend Al Sharpton the next morning.
Undercover police officers in the midst of a sting operation fired 50 shots outside the Jamaica strip club Bell, 23, and his two friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were exiting the night before Bell’s wedding. The shots killed Bell, sent his two friends to the hospital with multiple gun shot wounds and raised the ire of many local officials and community members.
“It’s one year and the pain has not subsided,” said City Councilmember John Liu who has encouraged city residents to support the vigil. “There are issues that need to be addressed. It’s been several years since Amadou [Diallo] and none of the recommendations that have come out since those tragedies have been implemented.”
After the vigil, which will take place on Liverpool Street between 94th and 95th Avenues in Jamaica, the final meeting of the tri-level legislative task force formed to examine the shooting and search for ways to improve relations between the police and community will convene.
“I remain committed to the promise I made to the Bell family and to all New Yorkers to work alongside other the federal, state and city government officials to reform police procedures,” said State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith who also represents the south Queens area.
City Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who helped Bell’s family get permission to have the vigil, echoed Smith’s statements.
“We have been trying to get the Police Department to do more to improve police and community relations,” Comrie said. “Hopefully, we will come up with some strong solutions and legislative actions to deal with these problems.”
In March of 2007, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged detectives Michael Oliver and Isnora with manslaughter and detective Marc Cooper with reckless endangerment.
Recently, a Queens judge postponed the trial against the officers, and it is now expected to begin in February of 2008.

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