Sharpton plans civil disobedience

May 7, 2008 5:15:26 AM PDT
A day of civil disobedience has been planned for Wednesday to protest the acquittals of three New York cops in the shooting death of Sean Bell. Six key sites, five in Manhattan, are the targets for the protest, which is designed unabashedly to lead to some arrests.

Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues has the story.

There could be gridlock at the locations where protesters are expected to gather Wednesday. The demonstration will be led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is warning his supporters that they should be ready to go to jail if necessary.

That's why it was surprising to hear him downplaying the impact of the protest Tuesday night.

"We're not going for big numbers," he said. "Because we're talking about praying and risking arrest."

But that might not be enough to calm the concerns of those who fear the protest could lead to serious gridlock around the city.

The protests will be held at:

  • One Police Plaza, with Sharpton, Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield
  • Varick and Houston Street, with Hazel Dukes, NAACP and labor leaders
  • 125th Street and Third Avenue
  • Third Avenue and 60th Street
  • 34th Street and Park Avenue
  • House of Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn

    All of the locations are near major bridges and streets that are prone to traffic tie-ups even without a demonstration.

    "We're trying to tie up the city on a moderate way," Sharpton said. "This is not the shutdown."

    The protests are in direct response to the verdict in the Sean Bell shooting, in which three NYPD detectives were acquitted for the shooting of the unarmed man on his wedding night.

    "Tomorrow's not about a big march," Sharpton said. "It's about multiple gatherings to show real concern."

    The mayor called the protests an exercise in free speech. But there is a limit.

    "Everybody can rest assured we will enforce the law," Bloomberg said. "And we will do everything we can to make sure we don't violate anybody's rights."

    The protests are expected to be peaceful. Sharpton says the "pray-ins" are part of many planned for the coming weeks, unless something changes in the case.