Sharpton arrested during Bell protest

Sharpton will meet with Governor Paterson W
May 8, 2008 4:40:19 AM PDT
Protesters took to the streets of New York City Wednesday to object to the verdicts given in the Sean Bell shooting trial. The Reverend Al Sharpton was one of about 200 people arrested as part of the protests.Also arrested were Bell's fiance, Nicole Paultre Bell, as well as shooting survivors Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman.

"Today, we want motorists to think about how three [other] motorists were shot at 50 times for no reason," Sharpton said.

New York Governor David Paterson is scheduled to meet privately with Sharpton and Bell's family Thursday.

The governor expressed surprise at last month's acquittal of three New York Police Department officers in the November 2006 shooting of Bell.

Paterson says he was surprised because of the number of shots fired.

The protests Wednesday disrupted traffic throughout the city.

There was a large crowd in front of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side. Police blocked the group from getting to the bridge itself on the Park Row approach.

About 100 protesters were arrested in the intersection and then put onto a police bus.

Protesters in Brooklyn also blocked access to the Manhattan Bridge from that approach.

Another group blocked access to the Midtown Tunnel on East Side. About 26 were arrested before traffic started flowing through the tunnel again.

The Holland Tunnel was blocked, but was reopened on the Manhattan side after about 14 arrests.

Protesters gathered near the Triborough Bridge in East Harlem, leading to 40 arrests. Roughly 50 others were arrested in Harlem as well.

Protesters had also blocked access to the Queensborough Bridge on Upper East Side. About 40 arrests were made at the 50th Street location.

Those arrested were processed at One Police Plaza.

While the demonstrations were peaceful, they were designed to also put pressure on federal authorities.

"It's about multiple gatherings to show real concern, so the federal government will have to deal with the public outcry and say, 'wow, people are so upset in New York,'" Sharpton said. "Civil rights are at risk here, that we have to look into this in a serious way."

They want federal prosecutors to take over the Bell case after the acquittal of the three detectives involved in the shooting.

Six key sites, five in Manhattan, were the targets for the protests, which were designed unabashedly to lead to some arrests. Those arrested, provided they were peaceful, are expected to only receive a desk appearance for disorderly conduct.

Locations and march details:

At police headquarters, hundreds gathered in the plaza. They marched to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge and kneeled to be arrested.

At the House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue in Brookly, protesters gathered inside before marching to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

At Varick and Houston Street in the West Village, several dozen protesters gathered on both sides of Varick. The protesters marched in traffic, heading south to the Holland Tunnel.

At 125th Street and Third Avenue in East Harlem, several hundred protesters marched to the entrance of the Triborough Bridge.

At 61st Street and Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side, there were several hundred protesters marching on the sidewalks up and down 61st Street between Third and Lexington avenues. At least one has a large banner. Those protestors marched to the Queensboro Bridge.

At 34th and Park Avenue on the East Side, protesters marched to the Midtown Tunnel.

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

Law enforcement and barricades were set up near the locations. Mayor Bloomberg called the protests an exercise in free speech. But he said there is a limit.

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

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