Obama Justice Department Joins the Sean Bell Murder Whitewash

sean bell murder protest

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
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In an age of pervasive racial profiling and militarized policing, impunity is the order of the day in local law enforcement. When summary execution and casual sadism pass for justice at the street cop level, where is the appeal of last resort? Certainly not the Obama Justice Department.
Obama Justice Department Joins the Sean Bell Murder Whitewash
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity.”
Twice in the space of a week, in New York City, the criminal justice system has proven incapable of protecting non-white citizens from a predatory police force. This past Monday, an officer was acquitted of shoving a police baton up the rectum of a young man who had been smoking marijuana. Two other officers got off on charges of covering up the sodomy attack – one of them was quoted as telling the victim, “You liked it, you liked it.”
The previous week, federal officials announced that the cops that fired 50 bullets at Sean Bell and two unarmed friends on the morning of Bell’s wedding, in November, 2006, would not face federal charges in the killing. The policemen had already been acquitted, in April of 2008, on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, a verdict that provoked a series of demonstrations resulting in the arrest of 200 people, including Bell’s surviving friends, his parents and fiancée, and Rev. Al Sharpton.
Sean Bell's death reached into the presidential campaign. Barack Obama, visibly ill at ease with the subject, tersely advised that, “The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down." Obama then counseled that “resorting to violence...is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."
Hillary Clinton's response was more sensitive to deeply felt Black anger. “My thoughts are with Nicole and her children and the rest of Sean's family during this difficult time,” said Clinton. She continued: “The court has given its verdict, and now we await the conclusion of a Department of Justice civil rights investigation.”
They concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.”
That investigation has succeeded only in federalizing the whitewash of Sean Bell's killing. The Obama Justice Department, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York all concluded that unleashing a 50-bullet fusillade against unarmed men, resulting in death, was not a violation of anyone's civil rights.
The Obama administration's refusal to seek justice for Sean Bell through the civil rights statutes should cause us to review the history. The feds began to prosecute killers on denial of civil rights grounds because southern white law enforcement agencies and juries refused to mete out punishment to racist murderers. Federal prosecutors felt compelled to take the civil rights route because entrenched racism made justice an impossibility in the state courts. More than two generations later, in the age of mass Black incarceration, a police state exists on the streets of New York and all our major cities. Police can organize instant firing squads or shove objects up people's rear ends, with near impunity. The circumstances cry out, just as forty-plus years ago, for federal intervention. But even the horrifying facts of the Sean Bell case are not enough to move the Obama administration's Justice Department.
Sean Bell's family will pursue civil damages. The victim of police sodomy has already filed a $440 million lawsuit against the city. There's a chance that both will win significant damages. But there is a lesson, here, for the victims of police abuse: You might eventually get some money, but you'll never get justice.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.


Thx. Eric Holder has, for the 2nd time, told a mother that the

DOJ will not do anything: to the mother of Sean Bell and I'd remembered that he's said "NO" to the mother of Amadou Diallo. Holder was a holdover from the Clinton Administration when he told K. Diallo that the DOJ was not going to do anything after the acquittal of the 4 NYPD officers who murdered her son.  I googled and found that there had been an article in the Amsterdam News in Feb. 2009, in a story on a scholarship in A. Diallo's name, confirming what I remembered.  There was also a good article online on the World Socialist Website about Eric Holder telling Ms. K. Diallo "No".  (Not able to dig out the links, but it's an easy google.)  Finished a major piece of art yesterday and my "Countdown to 7 0".  If there was a Leap Year
,I'd have a real birthday this weekend.  " Sanda Aronson"
PS I have made a pile of art starting with "Amadou Diallo" when the verdict of acquital came down in Feb. 2001 (I think), then updating it every time I heard of another NYPD killing.  Over and over again, making the title "Amadou Diallo and Since".  At the time of Sean Bell's murder, I did another.  The NYPD under Bloomberg has become more secretive.  Became harder to find the names of the killed, and/or phony stories were filling the media about the killings.  I rely very much on the Oct.22 Coalition for the names of the dead, and brief histories.  www.october22.org/  Carl Dix is one of the founders.


About the least bad of his transgressions, IMHO, was the pardoning of Marc Rich and Pincus Green. In retrospect, their crimes were relatively minor (corporate tax evasion of an amount shocking to an average citizen but on the smallish side for the time and the industry).  Two old men who wanted to spend some time with their grandkids in the USA before death and could arrange this through Clinton donor connections.
He and US Attorney Townsend were "legally" ordered by his boss to carry out this "legal" pardon.  Allegations of bribery of President Clinton by the former Mrs. Marc Rich were never proved. Garden variety "white" corruption.
Holder´s grotesque brief in support of DADT this spring went far and beyond a perceived duty to "support" current government policy into the realm of vile homophobia, which seemed to shock even first-class homophobe, President Obama.
It was in private practice, however, as corporate counsel to the Chiquita and Drummond corporations and (especially) their Colombian operations where Holder´s misdeeds were the greatest.  It is true that he was acting "in advocacy of a client" but as was revealed in the Delahunt hearings and in the civil suit brought by the families of the massacred trade unionists and workers in Colombia, Holder´s behavior while on foreign soil was not shall we say "seemly".
[I have friends in the Colombian trade union movement and my step-children are Colombian.]
Holder´s indifference to NYPD abuse and murder of black New Yorkers, especially, Sean Bell´s, which had the appearance of a game of sorts for NYPD entertainment, is not surprising.