The remembrances of Sean Bell continued in the southeast Queens community on Saturday, as residents in the area banded together for a march and a celebration of his life, a mark of the togetherness that has blossomed in the community in the wake of tragedy.
Even as people from all over the southeast Queens community marched, everyone was prepared for a moving day in the park.
Marchers gathered at four different points all over southeast Queens on Saturday to begin the march, all coming together in Roy Wilkins Park as the terminus point of their journey.
People met in varied places, including the cross-point of the Van Wyck Expressway and Linden Boulevard, 225th Street in Laurelton, as well as locations on Hillside Avenue and Springfield Boulevard.
Families and community members started what was, for some, a tearful journey before coming together in the park.
Some residents wore “I Am Sean Bell” shirts, hats and buttons, which became a familiar sight for people close to the trial, along with clothing and hats with the phrase “50 shots” stitched into them, a reference to the number of shots fired during the incident.
The event was billed as a Journey for Justice, and included speeches by Bishop Lester Williams, who was the personal pastor to the Bell family, the man who was supposed to perform the marriage ceremony for Sean Bell and his fiancee Nicole Paultre.
That wedding never came to pass, because Bell was killed early that morning in 2006 by police gunfire outside the club where his bachelor party was being held.
Since that day, countless events have been held in the community, which include church services, all-night vigils and additional marches, all of them deeply tied in with members of Bell’s family, and his close friends.
The event Saturday was no different. It included, perhaps most poignantly, a speech from Sean Bell’s father, William Bell, who talked about what Father’s Day meant to him now that he had lost his son.
“People came out and showed their support. It makes me feel good,” Bell was quoted in the New York Daily News. “This makes him alive in our hearts. We're here not only for Sean but for justice for all.”
He also mentioned that he planned to go to churches and talk about how his life had been affected, all in the interest of making sure that no other family has to suffer the pain of loss that he and his wife, Valerie, Sean Bell’s mother, have.
Bell’s sentiments were echoed both by Williams and by other members of the southeast Queens community, including Congressman Gregory Meeks, who spoke from the stage at the event, along with state Sen. Malcolm Smith, both of whom have made it a point to be extremely inclusive of the Bell family and Nicole Paultre Bell since the shooting in November 2006.
“We should not forget that tomorrow is one sad day for William Bell,” the Rev. Al Sharpton was quoted as saying. “He will remember that Sean is not there to wish him a happy Father’s Day.”