Tintinnabulation: For Whom Sean’s Bell Tolls

Published in the Black Star News on December 29th, 2006.
Neville Mitchell, Esq. Photo credit: Gideon Mannaseh

It’s a few days shy of the New Year and 30 since the murder of Sean Bell by New York City
Police.The early Christmas morning hour affords me quiet occasionally punctuated by the
sounds of passing cars. My refrigerator hums while my wife and toddler peacefully sleep in
bed. Sean Bell will not experience this, at least not in this life. Fortunately for us his blessed
demise has exposed the tragic lack of Black leadership in this City.With Sean’s death raw in
his loved one’s hearts, some with dollar signs emblazoned in their eyes offered to pay for
autopsy and funeral expenses. The Bells suppressed their revulsion, bit their lips and calmly
instructed his agents to keep him far.The personal injury lawyer having no real connection
to our community always magically appears to offer assistance, and retain his percentage.
The family refused to sacrifice their son on the altar of financial settlement as justice. The
Bell tolls for parasitic behavior and the brokers who gave access to insult a dignified family
at their darkest hour.At Sean’s funeral service elected Black “leaders”, anointed ones, and
those appointed by the press, paid their respects. One current politician through tears
vacuously said: “I thought we had done enough to save our Black men.” I wondered what
world he and his compatriots inhabited. Do they not see the plight of our youth?Assembled
behind the Mayor at a press conference, they jostled for position, laughed, smiled and
feigned usefulness. Deep down they must have hoped the camera lights would not reveal
their hypocrisy or its eye capture the cowardice gnawing at their souls. Principled men
protect their people. They do not commit fratricide or give aid and comfort to those who
harm them. Know that your people though incessantly forgiving, do not forget. The Bell tolls
for these leaders.The architects of harm have even trotted out past leaders appealing for
calm and the saving of a “good man’s” job. These leaders are bereft of exhortations for
cessation of the Police Department’s relentless attack on the Black community in general,
these victims in particular, and the policies and procedure that subjugate by design.Joseph
Guzman’s alleged sudden movement, the phantom “fourth man with a gun,” the revealed
criminal records-sealed or otherwise, that “two of the officers were Black,” defenses have
given way to “Sean was legally drunk.” The police department’s shameless despicable
tactics lay bare the sore beneath their callous existence and their ready access to the
venomous pit housing their soulless existence.They do not even respect us in death. As we
prepare for their next missile, we remain vigilant in the desire and commitment to get
justice. No sir, Mr. Past Mayor, Ray Kelly must go. The Bell tolls for him.As one of the
attorneys for the Bells – the father, William, and mother, Valerie -I have witnessed miss-
steps, half steps and steps fetched leaving no impressions. Death has revealed Sean’s true
potential – a larger than life figure.He is a public person. His loved ones struggle with this
development as people and causes foreign to them invoke his name. They are thankful for
those who genuinely care and truly want to protect our youth. Though they ache for Sean –
every mother’s son- they know his light has revealed the injustices heaped upon our
community. They soldier on in a life less normal in his absence with their faith as solace.

The Bell peals for Justice. Justice will be done.

The views expressed herein are those of the Neville O. Mitchell, Esq. Mr. Mitchell is a
practicing attorney. He wrote this arti

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