We Need a Different Way to Hold Police Accountable

By Jonathan Adams May 29, 2008

Byron Hurt wrote in his own words, on TheRoot.com, why he made his film "If 5-0 Shoots," a tribute to Sean Bell.

My wife Kenya and I got married on Sept. 30, 2006, a little more than a month and a half before Bell and his fiancee Nicole Paultre were set to get married. When I heard that the three detectives shot Benefield, Guzman and killed Bell after a bachelor party and just hours before Bell’s wedding, it hit me hard. I could quickly identify with Bell. The fact that Nicole and Sean never got the chance to share the same marital moment with their families and friends, as Kenya and I did, really distressed me. The day of the verdict, I wanted to do something, as opposed to sitting home watching news coverage. Kenya and I went to the Queens, N.Y. rally organized by People’s Justice and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. I brought along my video camera. I remember asking myself, "Why aren’t more people here? Why aren’t people willing to take action and stand up for justice?" When I got home, I knew I wanted to put a short film together and share it with the world.

Ibram Rogers, on TheRoot.com, says that the community cannot continue to have the same ol’ response to same ol’ police brutality.

Police departments are like thorn bushes in these urban black communities. And black America calling for the jobs of just the brutal cops is like demanding the removal of just the thorns that continue to prick us. What about the bush that still remains? Calling for the jobs and imprisonment of the offending officers should be only one element of our activism. We should also be shouting even louder for fundamental changes in accountability standards for urban police departments across America. That’s the only way the brutality will end.

Rogers continues,

The only way this problem will end is if these people who are supposed to be serving and protecting us come directly under our control. Every police department in urban America should be governed directly by the community they operate in. These police boards should be similar to school boards that control schools throughout America. This should be the loudest demand of black America every time there is an act of police brutality. We need a system that actually seeks to serve and protect us instead of brutalize and abuse us.