Community Center, Mentoring Planned
Volume 10 Issue No. 49 Dec. 4-10, 2009
PRESS Photo by Ira Cohen
The family of Sean Bell is looking to establish
a foundation and educational programs to
honor the charity of their late son.
By Alice Speri…Page 3
Online at www.QueensPress.com
In Sean's Honor:
Community Center, Mentoring Planned
BY ALICE SPERI
Paterson To Hold Town Hall In SEQ
BY SASHA AUSTRIE
With the state embroiled in a fiscal
chokehold and the foreclosure crisis crippling Southeast Queens, Gov. David Paterson is making a pit stop in our neighborhood next week for a little bit of community conversation.
"They reached out," Councilman Leroy
Comrie (D-St. Albans) said of the
governor's impending visit.
Assemblyman William Scarborough
(D-Jamaica) said the governor wants to
hear from the community and talk about
the state of the state. He said the issues
to take center stage at the town hall
meeting are foreclosures, health care
"I think it is always beneficial when the
state chief executive comes to hear directly from the people," Scarborough said.
He said he was sure the governor's visit
had an understated 'political dynamic, but
it benefits the community."
Both Scarborough and Comrie agreed
that even with the financial crisis billions of dollars would be spent and the
community conversation would be a vehicle to make the governor aware of the
"Even in a negative economy we still
have to ensure that the community grows,"
Scarborough added that the growing issues facing the state cannot be
"It's not a situation that he can solve or
the Legislature can solve," Scarborough
said. "We have to solve it collectively."
Comrie said Southeast Queens will "get
a real sense of where he is as governor."
The community conversation will be
held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at St.
Albans Congregational Church, 172-17
Reach Reporter Sasha Austrie at
[email protected], or (718) 3577400 Ext. 123.
Dec. 4-10, 2009 PRESS of Southeast Queens Page 3
Three years after their son was killed
by police, Sean Bell's parents are embarking on a new mission. Determined to
move beyond the anger the shooting left
behind, William and Valerie Bell want to
turn their son's death into something positive.
"You can't understand how I feel,"
William Bell tells people at countless community events. "And I don't want you to
feel how I feel. This is why we are trying
to get a foundation going."
He and his wife have launched The
Sean Elijah Bell Foundation. Next May
18, on what would have been Sean Bell's
27th birthday, his parents hope to inaugurate the foundation's main project, a multipurpose community center, offering youth
mentoring, family counseling, educational
support and forums for residents and police to come together.
"I'm working for my son now," William Bell says.
While funding and space remain challenges, the foundation will soon be ready
to take off, said Anthony Anderson, who
helped register it as a non-profit last April.
"We wanted to do something to keep
Sean's name alive," said Anderson, a
cousin of William Bell. "We want to show
that he was a very productive citizen although he was portrayed as something
Sean Bell was killed in 2006 in a spray
of 50 bullets, in Jamaica. He was unarmed.
Three police officers involved in the shooting were acquitted, though a federal investigation is ongoing.
Nicole Paultre Bell, who was to marry
him on the day he was killed and is the
mother of their two daughters, also started
a foundation- "When It's Real It's Forever," which sponsors a baseball team in
The Bells don't want their son to be
remembered with bitterness.
"That's not bringing him back," said
William Bell, adding that his mission is to
do "anything positive, because there is so
Valerie Bell says that after her son's
death she kept learning about charity he
did, such as fundraising for the elderly with
his baseball team.
the wheel," Anderson
The Bell Foundation
said. "But we have looked
has many plans, from a
at things missing in this
community, and we want
Sean Bell's life with
to have a program that
tours to the shooting's
location, to a Christian
bookstore in his name,
wants to be visible to the
to a $ 1,000 essay concommunity and one of
test for high school stuthe priorities is a bus that
will drive through the
With the help of U.S.
neighborhood to help
Sen. Chuck Schumer,
people register and prethe foundation secured
pare for the GED.
a "pretty sizeable" grant
"Some programs out
from the Department of
there are not reaching
Housing and Urban Dethe community," Andervelopment, Anderson
son said. "The difference
said. The grant funds
is that we are gonna bring
the purchase and renothe center to you."
vation of space by nonAlthough the foundaprofits.
tion plans to go "mobile,"
Anderson is now
looking for a 15,000- Sean Bell’s memory will last longer than the family photos that remain, thanks to it needs a space to start.
"It's not real until you
square-foot space to his family.
can actually touch it,"
house the foundation's
programs and facilities. The former brothers, known for their grassroots work added Anderson, enthusiastic but realisQueens County courthouse and a build- against street violence, will work with the tic about the challenges ahead. "We don't
ing on Rockaway Boulevard are likely program. While this won't be the first of want to linger on without having a home
its kind, demand for such community ini- where we can start running programs."
Funding is a concern, however. After
Valerie Bell will run "Mothers Of Never tiatives is high, they say.
"No organization can cover all of the initial grant, which is contingent upon
Again," a support group for mothers of
victims of all violence, which she started Queens," said Lance Feurtado. "Anyone getting a space, Anderson plans to apply
after her son's death and which last year that is in the trenches, in the streets mak- for city grants, solicit private donations
and raise revenue from the museum's store
brought her together with the mother of ing a difference is very much needed."
William Bell's mentorship program will and a book about Sean Bell, to be pubAmadou Diallo, another victim of police
brutality. Several social workers have vol- also bring together young men with po- lished by the end of next year. His goal is
to raise $ 500,000 by the end of 2010.
unteered to help.
"That will help us power the foundaA retired detective and family friend
"Until this happened I wasn't involved
in the community, just went to work, took is helping organize sensitivity training on tion," Anderson said.
Anderson admits plans are ambitious,
care of my family," she said. But during how to interact with police, said Anderbut shows the foundation is already workthe 50-day vigil held for her son, she real- son.
Improving relationships with law en- ing. A toy and clothes drive scheduled for
ized, "mothers should come together to
comfort each other and talk about how to forcement is key to William Bell's mission. December is among the first initiatives,
When the foundation gets going, he wants with drop-off locations in St. Albans and
make a change."
"Be A Man" will be a mentoring pro- to introduce officers to the community to Manhattan.
"I feel encouraged by the energy of the
gram run by William Bell "to help young overcome fears each side has of the other.
At a memorial held in Harlem last year, Bell family," said Anderson, who refers to
men face up to their responsibility," he said.
"I'm planning on having a boxing ring, "Mr. Bell went out of his way to invite the himself as their "go-to-guy." "If Mr. and
too," he added, hoping this will offer an police department up there and thank Mrs. Bell could persevere through all of
alternative to violence. "Tell the kids, you them for their presence," Anderson said. this, then I should be able to."
The foundation will make sure Sean
"I give them credit for what they do,"
want to fight? Here, put on the gloves,
Bell is not forgotten, his parents say.
William Bell said.
and after, shake hands."
"I used to tell Sean, you're gonna be
The foundation wants to cooperate
Sean Bell's shooting followed a fight
outside Club Kalua, where he was celebrat- with existing organizations but also plans famous," said William Bell of his son's talent for sports. "I never realized it would
to bring in some innovations.
ing with friends.
"I don't want to say we're reinventing be like this."
Community activists like the Feurtado