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Sean Bell Summit – Know Your Rights

Words And Photos by BW Correspondent Cynthia Turnquest-Jones

5bbad927-11f5-42a5-8542-d6405e710bafHarlem, USA — City officials, lawyers, presidents, Civil Rights Leaders, philanthropists, city officials, parents, and those affected by their communities and families being prematurely ripped from them by either police or community criminality gathered at the prominent Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture, located in the heart of Harlem (515 Malcolm X Blvd) for the Sean Bell Know Your Rights Summit, Monday, April 25th.

The summit was held by the courageous Nicole Paultre Bell, owner of the WIRIF (When It’s Real It’s Forever) Organization and the wife of slain Sean Bell. In attendance was Sanford Rubenstein lawyer for Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham. Graham Weatherspoon, founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., Son of slain Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. and activists from White Plains, New York. As well as Erica Ford, Executive Director of Life Camp.

The knowing your rights conversations covered voting, the police, and the know your rights bills.

200,000 people were pardoned in the State of Virginia and are able to vote. Being able to Vote is a part of being a part of society. If you are on probation you can vote in NYState. If you are awaiting trial when you are on trial you can still vote.

Shaun D. Francois I, President of Local 372 spoke about the fear. He emphasized that he knows his rights and exactly what he should do when pulled over. But, there is a haunting feeling that over comes him even though he knows his rights. Mr. Francois stated, “It is not that we do not know our rights. The police for some odd reason have no clue as to what their rights are.” Shaun D. Francois I ended by saying, “Let us change what we are doing.”

The Know Your Rights Bills:
Identification Bill. This bill requires the police officer to tell you their name, badge number, and explain why they are stopping you in the beginning. Included in this bill is for an officer to also give you a business card as well. The ID Bill currently have 28 signed on.

The “I do not give the consent for you to search me” Bill. Requires the police to say, “You have the right to NOT consent this search.” The Consent to Search Bill currently have 32 signed on.

The “Power of Imbalance” is very prominent when you are stopped by the police. Erica Ford said, “The officers with George Tillman were standing over him. If this is the mentality of the new officers coming in it is alarming. The fear on both sides are responding from a lack of love and compassion.” George Tillman was another causality of NYPD. Honored as a 32-year-old loving father of five, husband, son, and a very good family man. George was fatally shot by NYPD officers early Sunday, April 17th in the morning during a traffic stop in Ozone Park, Queens.

Tamika Mallory re-stated what Graham Weatherspoon said, “If you don’t understand racism everything will confuse you.” Statistics indicated that in 2013, boys of color between the ages of 14-21 were stopped more than any other race.

“Everything is black and white. I am racist because it has been taught to me. Something that I have been trying to undo for thirty-seven years.” Michael Skolnik, Editor in Chief of Global Grind. “The racist system is a money-making business.” He continues by stating, “White people will never be free until Black people are free.”

“Racism is the Cancer of the American Society,” said Mr Weatherspoon. You ask what is it that we need to know in regards to Stop n Frisk. There are steps to “Stop n Frisk”. The system runs off of money it is called selective enforcement. What is done in one area is not done in another area. (For example) The police department is the most expensive bill in New York City. Over billions of monies in the past years. Some officers carrying 90 million dollars in lawsuits. In particular there is one white officer and two black officers who are still working as officers and their bill is very high. Weatherspoon stated, “We failed to fulfill and inspire our youth. The reason why there is stop and frisk is because there is a failure to stop and vote. Stop n Frisk is used to write off Black men from the “fruit of the tainted tree”: no city job and no financial aid.

Graham Weatherspoon of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement suggested that records be expunged by. “You have judges who knows that officers are lying. You have judges who knows that lawyers are lying. You have judges who knows that the system is lying. You have judges who are simply lying.”

One panelist stated, “when the movement is strong the music is strong.” Touching on the signs that things will change and the disagreements with marching. A guest from the audience corrected the disagreement with marching and stated that “being disruptive” is very important.

The “Power of Imbalance” is very prominent when you are stopped by the police. As a mother of two sons I end with questions and continued thoughts. What is a right without a remedy? We want to make sure that our young men and women come home. Teaching our students to protect their safety. We are not sending students out to be rebellious. We are sending our boys out with the understanding that they can stand tall.

About The Sean Bell Summit: This annual event always takes place on the anniversary of the acquittal of the 3 of the 5 Detectives (Detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Detective Marc Cooper) who were responsible for killing of Sean Bell on November 25, 2006. It’s purpose is to keep minority people alive when interacting with the Police. This has been and will continue to be a positive event which encompasses high-ranking Police Officials, NYCLU General Council, Local Politicians and Civil Rights Activists.

About WIRIF Organization: Founded by Nicole Paultre Bell, When It’s Real Its Forever, Inc. is A Not For Profit Organization was formed after the of the tragic death of her soon to be husband Sean Bell. The purpose of this organization is to assist families and communities in need. They seek to promote a venue whereby people can receive and understand the resources and tools they possess and that are available to them. “We cannot afford to forget families in crisis from injustices by the courts system, police brutality, gun violence, civil rights abuse and abandonment from our own Government.”


About Cynthia Turnquest-Jones (48 Articles)
Cynthia Turnquest-Jones a co-host of People Before Politics Radio is an avid philanthropist. In October 2012 she launched Tha B.U.M.P. “Brown Urban Mother Partnership”, hosting an informational breast cancer session “Save the Women not the Boobies” inviting mothers from the community to sit and enjoy healthy foods while engaging in dialogue about breast cancer. In addition to Tha B.U.M.P, Cynthia is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, Mocha Moms, Incorporated, MAMAiAM, the Episcopal Church Women, secretary for Mount Saint Michael Academy PTA in the Bronx, and a member of Graham Elementary School PTA.
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