Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Friday, December 01, 2006

Shades of Diallo: Not to wed but to mourn

Hundreds of people congregated for Sean Bell's funeral in the same church he was to have been married in last Saturday. On Nov. 25, Bell, 23, was shot and killed by five New York Police Department officers who between them fired 50 shots at his vehicle.

During what should have been the first week of his marriage, his family prepared to bury him. Two of his friends still are hospitalized with injuries sustained from multiple gunshot wounds. His fiancee Nichole Paultre became a widow, before she ever was a wife.The minister, Lester Williams, who was to pronounce them man and wife, instead delivered Bell's eulogy. He asked mourners to focus on Bell's life, rather than his tragic death.

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for Sean. The bells are ringing outrage," he added.

Dozens of people marched around the church, but police barricades stretching two blocks away kept the crowds away.

USA Today: Sean Bell's funeral

New York Times: Bell's funeral

New York Daily News: Bell's funeral

NYC Indymedia: Sean Bell funeral photos

(excerpt, USA Today)

"They took his life, but we can't let them take his legacy," the Rev. Al Sharpton said, repeatedly greeted with cheers and "Amens" from the overflow crowd. "We must give Sean a legacy. A legacy of justice, a legacy of fairness. We don't hate cops, we don't hate race, we hate wrong."

Paultre wept at the cemetary as Bell's body was placed in the ground for burial. Many of the 200 onlookers were wearing buttons bearing Bell's image.

Sean Bell's burial

Police officers had been conducting a series of raids in Queens searching for the elusive man in black and the even more elusive gun they believed he carried while allegedly fleeing the scene of the shooting. Now, they are searching through sewer grates in what many has criticized as attempts by the NYPD to divert attention away from itself and onto those its officers shot when a sting operation being conducted involving prostitution at a local strip club turned ended in a deadly shooting.

In the New York Times, the NYPD defended the raids it had conducted in Queens.

“The N.Y.P.D. Internal Affairs Bureau is conducting appropriate follow-up inquiries and providing all information to the Queens district attorney,” the department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said.

Okay, so it was the Internal Affairs Division, which was created to investigate allegations of misconduct including criminal behavior against police officers that is now arresting civilians, detaining others and interrogating them in their homes? That is doubtful.

Queens is heating up, as a protest led by the new Black Panther Party and other organizations led hundreds of people in the streets. Other Black leaders including Al Sharpton stayed away even though many of the comments made at the protest mirrored those he and other leaders had made earlier.

Rally of rage

Malik Zulu Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, grasped a megaphone with one hand and pumped his fist with the other as he addressed the raucous rally.

"On the charges of outright assassination of young black men, how do you find the NYPD?" Shabazz asked. "Guilty!" he answered, quickly echoed by the crowd.
Shabazz then asked the same question about Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "Guilty!" came the replies.

Later on Friday, the police department announced that it had located its mysterious man, Jean Nelson, in black. However, his attorney told the New York Daily News that his client witnessed the shooting but was unarmed and not involved in the incident.

Mystery man allegedly found

WABC said that it had exclusive information here on the shooting investigation. Included in the article is information on the numerous 911 phone calls that were made and on ballistic evidence recovered from the scene including 41 discharged 9mm casings and 15 deformed bullets including one from the nearby AirTrain terminal. During the shooting, two Port Authority officers there narrowly avoided being hit but suffered minor injuries from glass shattered by bullets.

The debate about whether the shooting had anything to do with race continues here. Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to deny that it does, because the police officers who shot at Bell and his friends were members of different racial groups.

A leader of a civil rights organization disagrees.

(excerpt, AP story)

"It doesn't matter what color cop it is," said Michael Meyers, the executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition. "The overwhelming number of victims of questionable police shootings have been young black men."

And Texas A&M sociologist Joe Feagin warns that minority officers are not immune from stereotypes, based on race.

"Even if you're an officer of color, you're in a whitewashed world," he said. Those officers, Feagin said, may see black people as more dangerous than white people.

The issue of how police officers are trained to deal with different situations was also discussed.

"The training issue is a big issue," said Karen Blum, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. "Even if you took race out of this picture, these officers were not trained well in how to respond in this kind of situation."

This debate probably mattered little to the hundreds of mourners at Bell's funeral who gathered to say goodbye to a man who was killed on his wedding day.

In the weeks ahead, these questions and more are sure to be asked by many, over and over again as they have been in many a fatal encounter between a young Black man and the NYPD police department.

Across the country, in Riverside, questions are being asked along similiar lines about the fatal shooting of Lee Deante Brown earlier this year.

The transcripts of those who were interviewed by investigators, whether they were civilians or police officers, yielded interesting information about the moments that preceded Brown's shooting. They also produced many questions, fewer answers.

Civilians disagreed with civilians. Civilians disagreed with police officers. Police officers disagreed with police officers. Police officer disagreed with belt recording. Investigators explain shooting circumstances to civilian witnesses. And in the middle of all this confusion, lies the truth.

The Brown shooting is being investigated by the police department, the Community Police Review Commission and the FBI.

Witness Lynette Wilsey: “You know what? It’s like this. I’m not for sure if the other one shot him or the other one shot him. But does it matter?

Det. Rick Cobb: “Actually it kind of does. We want to know exactly who did it.

To be continued...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mary, I have been reading your blog for awhile and you seem to have a lot to say about paleged police misconduct. Have you considered applying to be a member of the force? I think you'll find that this is where you would be able to make the most change.

Saturday, December 02, 2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear "Anonymous":

Yes, I know that you have been reading this blog for a while now. At least a year. I take it that you have finally run out of aliases, at least for now?

If you are the police officer you have claimed to be, have you ever considered leaving the profession and finding another line of work? Every little bit helps.

As far as "change" coming from inside the RPD, community members had been waiting for those inside the department to do that for years, actually several decades, but any police chiefs who came in and tried to institute change had a curious pattern of getting run out of the department by their angry subordinates. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer himself mentioned this trend and noted that any changes that were made in the police department were alas, short-lived mostly for that reason along with apathy shown by the city government.

Most of the change that has been made inside this police department has come from outside pressure including that instituted by outside law enforcement agencies. This department did not change until there was a legal document filed in court stating that it had to do so or else. That's not "change" from within the department, because the department did not choose to institute reforms, it was dragged into the process kicking and screaming. Though some minds have changed since then while some obviously have not.

What change that has occurred from within that same agency and there has been some, is apparently what drove you and your buddies to my site to vent about the unfairness of it all in the first place. You were running out of acceptable venues to complain in and maybe other people were sick and tired of listening to you and your buddies, real or imagined.

Apply? Given that nine women dropped out during the process just this year alone, I think I'll wait until the department including officers like yourself stop viewing them as a hinderence or the "weaker" sex and as an asset. Unfortunately, that has to begin at the top and it hasn't.

As I recall, most of the moaning and groaning by you and your cohorts was done on the female officers' thread.

How many female officers are on your police union's board? I think one, and that's actually an improvement because usually there are none. This reveals that female officers still aren't even really accepted by the rank and file either.

So no offense, I'd probably apply instead to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department because even the recruiters in the RPD will tell you, that's where most of the female candidates are going, and there are several good reasons for that.

Have a nice day,

Saturday, December 02, 2006 1:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes they is a plethara of good reasons for it. (RSO)

Sheriff's deputies be workin custody for the first several years. It be nice and safe in the jail. it be like bein a city fireman. contolled environment. easy paycheck.

wow. you and i be agree-en on something.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear "Anonymous"

See response on the other thread that you posted on.

And you don't know anymore about being a fire fighter than you do about law enforcement, let alone the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 1:08:00 PM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

What the heck is paleged?

Sunday, December 03, 2006 6:22:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Sandalou:

I have no idea. Maybe he meant to say "pledged police misconduct". Maybe it was all those drinks he mentioned earlier.

Have a nice day,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 2:25:00 PM  

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