It was a case that divided the city—the shooting of an unarmed man by police on his wedding day. The site of the Sean Bell shooting has now been transformed into what many are calling a blessing. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
A church banner now drapes over a former strip club. Long gone are the neon lights, bright red doors and tiny sign which used to mark Club Kalua—the place where Sean Bell was celebrating with friends before he was killed by police on the morning of his wedding in 2006.
"When the incident did happen to my son, I knew that they did close maybe within a couple of months because the things weren't up-to-date for their club so it wasn't meant to stay as a club," says Valerie Bell, Sean Bell's mother.
People in the neighborhood didn't know what it would become, though.
They watched for years as the for rent sign faded.
Last year, a banner appeared. Bell's mother noticed it a few months ago while on her way to work.
"When I saw it, I said, 'Wow look at God. He's changing something in this community,'" Valerie Bell says.
Officials at Miniserio Fe de Multitudes say they weren't thinking about the building's history, though.
Even though the story made national headlines, church officials say they didn't know this place was connected to the shooting until after they bought it and moved in.
"A few days, weeks later we found out, but we weren’t scared or anything because we knew this was God’s purpose for us to do," says David Lopez, the son of the church's pastor.
"I don’t know much about it, but I know that here we’re trying to, like, make a difference, you know, trying to change—not making it seem like what had happened is still here," says church member Bridgett Ixcot.
Looking at the place, Valerie Bell says her son would've been pleased with the transformation. As a devout Christian herself, she's happy too.