Al Sharpton was found guilty of charges related to his staging of protests against the acquittal of police related to a 2006 shooting of an unarmed man just hours before his wedding. The citywide "slowdown" froze roadways and bridges in New York.
In 2006, a man in his early twenties was living it up just a few hours before he was suppose to say "I Do." Sure, its what many young men do before they tie the knot. The Queens, New York club where they hosted the bachelor party was more than just a club. It was under investigation for operating allowing prostitution.
Something went down during the night that was suppose to be a final celebration of singledom and Sean Bell's last night as an unwed man became his last night as a living man.
According to the Daily News, one of the undercover officers testified that he actually heard Bell and one of his pals confer to step outside and get a gun following an argument with a female patron, with the officer quoting bell as saying "[Bell] said, 'Let's f--- them up." This prompted officers to follow the potentially violent perpetrators.
An officer told Bell to put his hands up but instead, Bell pushed the gas pedal and ran over a police officer and then slammed into a vehicle. A police shootout followed.
Sean Bell was shot and killed. His two friends were wounded in the 50-round gun spray.
Toxicology showed that Bell was legally intoxicated during the incident. He also had a rap sheet that included drug deals and firearms possession. There was also reports in the local paper by confidential sources that he had sold crack cocaine to police informant.
The other two friends of Bell had a history of arrest warrants that included firearms possession, gambling and assault.
During the trial, the family of Bell accused the police of fabricating a story that would protect fellow officers. However, all of the officers were found innocent of criminal charges. They were, however, cited by the police department on miscellaneous disciplinary actions.
In protest of the shooting, Al Sharpton rallied his troops and brought several roadways to a halt in May when the officers were acquitted on all charges earlier this year. The group's rally for Sean Bell blocked blocking the streets and entrances to the Triborough, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges. More than two-hundred were arrested for disorderly conduct, including Sharpton and Bell's parents, but only eight of those charges stuck.
Yesterday, Al Sharpton and his cohorts, who were arrested and charged, were found guilty of disorderly conduct. The guilty verdict in this case is not a criminal offense.
Since they were locked up following the May incident, the judge ordered the sentence as time served. They were each ordered to pay a $95 US court fee as well, for which Sharpton has graciously volunteered to pick up the tab for all of the disorderly conducteers. And according to the New York Times, Judge Larry R. Stephen explained his verdict:
[he was] “sympathetic to the underlying causes which gave rise to the protests and demonstrations,” he added, “The evidence is overwhelming.”
“My view is, if you decide to take a bullet for the team, you should not complain about the consequences that flow from that act,” Judge Stephen said.
Sharpton, however, continued with his justification over the protest:
“I hope the city would think about how the pedestrians who couldn’t walk that day, and the drivers who couldn’t drive, were no different than the three young men who sat in the car that day and were shot at”
while others saw the verdict as injustice saying “For the judge to find us guilty of any crime when the police were found not guilty of anything, there’s no justice.”