Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Al Sharpton Arrested in NY

CIVIL rights activist the Reverend Al Sharpton and at least 30 others were arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge today for stopping traffic to protest the acquittal of policemen who fired 50 shots at an unarmed black man on his wedding day.

Hundreds of protesters stopped rush-hour traffic around New York City where more arrests were expected in a civil disobedience campaign called by Mr Sharpton, who has been close to the slain man's family since the November 2006 shooting.

Last month, a state judge cleared two detectives of manslaughter and a third of reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, in a case that outraged New York's black community.

Al Sharpton, shooting survivors Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, and Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre Bell, lined up and peacefully put their hands behind their backs as police put plastic handcuffs on them. Sharpton and Bell were placed in a police vehicle.

The civil rights leader is seeking a federal civil rights probe into Bell's shooting outside a Queens nightclub. The case raised questions about police use of deadly force in minority neighborhoods.

The Justice Department, federal prosecutors and the FBI are reviewing the case and could take legal action if investigators suspect a violation of federal civil rights laws.

A decade ago Mr Al Sharpton organised similar demonstrations after four police officers who fired 41 shots were acquitted in the death of an unarmed West African man, Amadou Diallo. Dozens were arrested then, including Mr Sharpton.

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