Plan to Rename Street for Sean Bell Draws Some Criticism

Grace Rauh, NY1, December 17, 2009

Although the City Council is expected to approve a plan to rename a Queens street after police shooting victim Sean Bell, some politicians and law enforcement agents are criticizing the measure. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Some members of the City Council want to rename Liverpool Street in Jamaica, Queens “Sean Bell Way,” as a way to mark the site where an unarmed man was shot and killed by police officers on his wedding day in 2006.

“It’s a recognition of his life and what his life meant. We have no idea what that young man could have become,” said Queens Councilman Thomas White.

The City Council is set to vote on the proposal on Monday, after a council committee approved it on Thursday as part of 70 new street names.

Yet some officials are balking at the plan. President Michael Palladino of the Detectives’ Endowment Association said that Bell was drunk and used a car as a deadly weapon on the night of his death, and also noted that Bell had a criminal record.

In 2008, three police officers were acquitted in connection with the shooting, including two who were charged with manslaughter.

“The decision to rename a street after Sean Bell is an insult to the law-abiding citizens of our city, to the youth of our city, and of course to the law enforcement community,” said Palladino.

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The measure has the support of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and is expected to be approved by the full council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also expected to sign the bill. An aide said the mayor doesn’t veto street renamings.

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