There was anger on the streets of Queens, where Sean Bell was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets in 2006 – both before and after a judge on Friday acquitted three detectives who had been charged in the shooting. The New York Times reports that many blacks in the city said their anger was tempered by the complicated case that unfolded in a city less racially divided than 10 years ago. One said he disagreed with the judge's verdict, but felt more resigned than angry about it. Another believed the detectives should have been found guilty, but said he saw the case through a prism not of race, but of police conduct. “It's a lack of police training,” he said. “It's not about race when you have black killing black. We overplay the black card as an issue.”
Many black New Yorkers reacted to the verdict not with outrage but with a “muted reserve,” the Times reports, saying the city felt like a less polarized place in 2008. Some said that after a seven-week trial, the picture of what happened the night Bell, a black man, was killed was still murky, and so they left the public outcry to a relatively small group of black activists who had been closely monitoring the case. There were those who spoke of losing faith and trust in both law enforcement and the judicial system, and who saw the Bell case as a vivid example of how little has changed. “How many shots have to be fired for things to change?” asked Torell Marsalis, 35, of South Jamaica.