With Justice Arthur J. Copperman declaring three NYPD officers not guilty of manslaughter, assault or reckless endangerment in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who was murdered in front of a Queens strip club the night before his wedding, the hip hop community has wasted no time in providing their opinions on the shocking verdict.
Russell Simmons, who has played an intricate role in providing a positive foundation for today’s youth with his Hip Hop Action Summit Network, feels as though communication between law enforcement personnel and the communities they serve will decrease such travesties as these. “I don't know what implications a guilty or non guilty verdict in the Sean Bell case has on our society. I only know for certain we need more sensitivity training as part of the police curriculum. I also believe a more intimate dialogue must be promoted between police and the communities,” Simmons said in a statement.
By pursuing a specific process, Simmons believes the perception of authority figures will change drastically, thus making the presence of the police feel more welcoming instead of threatening. Simmons continued, “This process could change the perception by some in the hood who view the police presence as an occupying force when they could or should see them as a security force working for the people.”
Well renowned movie director, Spike Lee, also feels last weeks verdict was a true testament to how troubled our judicial system has become. “I feel very bad and I guess its business as usual. Of course, race relations are better here in NYC then it was under Mayor Guillani’s and the infamous Ed Koch, but Sean Bell should be alive. I feel there is no reason why, no right reason, why he was shot down in a hail of bullets. I feel for his fiancé and I hope the family appeal’s the decision, which I feel is an unjust decision.” Lee told BET.com.