Black Public Scholars

July 28, 2010

Top Scholars, Leaders Speak on the Sean Bell Settlement

From Dr. Boyce Watkins:  Most of you know what I think about the Sean Bell shooting and subsequent settlement.  But I reached out to a few of my friends to get their takes on the situations.  You can read their comments below:


Dr. Michael Eric Dyson:  I am glad that the City of New York will pay the family of Mr. Bell – and Mr. Guzman and Mr. Benefield – for the egregious injustice of Bell’s death and the shootings of Guzman and Benefield by undercover cops.  The Bell murder highlights the need for the end to racial profiling of minorities and police brutality against blacks.  While the condition of the settlement precludes admission of wrongdoing, we all know that vicious racist practices often have lethal consequences for minority citizens.  I pray this settlement helps the families and reminds us of the need for true justice.


Rev. Al Sharpton: National Action Network and I have said from the moment we were called the day Sean Bell was killed and Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were wounded that we would stand by the family no matter what. Nicole Paultre Bell has to labor to raise two children with no father and to provide for them and Joseph Guzman still carries bullets in his body and may never be able to work a regular job. Trent Benefield carries scars for life.

The settlement must all provide for their families but this in no way mitigates or repairs the permanent damage done to them and the pain it has caused them forever nor does it diminish the outrage in the community. We will always pursue justice for the family of Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield."




Dr. Julianne Malveaux:  What is the price of a life?  The $7 million settlement in the Sean Bell case offers relief to an aggrieved family and rights a wrong.  It also raises issues about the ways that law enforcement personnel interact with the African American community.  Bell was at the cusp of an exciting life, on the eve of his wedding day. He should not have died, and the life in this settlement caution for each of us to take care of all of us and to be cautious and careful about the meaning of life.  Both bullets and assumptions killed Sean Bell. Neither assault is acceptable


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