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Residents, Black Leaders Angered By Police Shooting Gather In Queens

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TWC News: Residents, Black Leaders Angered By Police Shooting Gather In Queens
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The weekend shooting of 23-year-old Sean Bell by police in Queens has angered many black leaders, who say police brutality must be controlled; many of them gathered for a community meeting Tuesday night. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

"Fifty bullets in any other community any other than the community of ours would be called an assassination," said Edward Williams of the NAACP Far Rockaway chapter.

"Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Kelly, your excuses are not acceptable," said Graham Weatherspoon of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.

Almost four days after the shooting death of Sean Bell, anger among many black leaders has not dissipated. At a community meeting Tuesday night, Southeast Queens residents aired their concerns, and black leaders — many of them representing the NAACP — made demands, some for indictments against the officers involved, what one of them called, quick justice.

There is no excuse for failure in law enforcement. I voluntarily entered law enforcement," said Weatherspoon. "There is no excuse. When you cross the line, you got to pay the price."

Others called for an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. More than one expressed a lack of confidence in Queens D.A. Richard Brown, who they accused of failing to prosecute police brutality. And everyone agreed there is a need for reform of the NYPD, an agency they say polices the black and Hispanic communities differently than the white community. The officers who fired on Sean Bell, they say, are only the latest example.

"We had officers firing upon unarmed citizen, every rule in the book. We have to understand and find out, is this the policy of the NYPD in these vice units when they come into the black and Hispanic neighborhoods," said Leroy Gadsden of the NAACP Jamaica chapter.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has pointed out that two of the police officers who fired upon Bell and his friends are black, but one black leader at this meeting said it's the race of the victim that counts.

- Bobby Cuza
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