I made "If 5-0 Shoots …" because I wanted to show my support and solidarity with Sean Bell, his friends, family, and the millions of people around the world who believe in social justice.
The murder of Sean Bell and the April 25th "Not Guilty" verdict for the three indicted police officers that killed him, were unjust. I was upset when I learned that Justice Arthur J. Cooperman acquitted the police officers on all counts. If police could shoot at Trent Bennefield, Joseph Guzman, and Sean Bell, they could shoot at my boys, Trevor Montgomery, Earl Brown, and me.
But there's another reason why the murder of Sean Bell touched me.
My wife Kenya and I got married on September 30, 2006, just over a month and a half before Bell and his fiancé Nicole Paultre were set to get married. So when I heard the news that three detectives shot Bennefield, Guzman, and killed Bell after they left his bachelor party just hours before his wedding, it hit me hard. I quickly identified with Bell. It would have been a tragedy – a nightmare – for Kenya and our families if cops recklessly took my life after a senseless confrontation the day before our wedding. The fact that Nicole and Sean never got the chance to share the same marital moment with their families and friends, like Kenya and I did, really bothered me.
The day of the verdict, I wanted to do something, as opposed to sitting home, watching news coverage, and doing nothing at all. Kenya and I went to the Queens, NY rally, organized by People's Justice and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. I brought my video camera with me to shoot the event. As I shot, one of the things I remember thinking to myself was, "Why aren't more people here? Why aren't people willing to take action and stand up for justice?"
When I got home from the rally, I knew I wanted to put a short film together and share it with the world by putting it up on the internet. I called Nonso Christian Ugbode, a talented, young graphic artist and editor, and I asked him if he had time to edit the piece. He agreed. I looked through the footage I shot – a little more than an hour's worth – and took notes. For several days, I prayed and meditated about the story I wanted to tell and how to tell it. I thought about Sean Bell, the 50 shots, the wedding that never was, the verdict, and the tragedy of if all. What would I want people to do if the cops shot at me 50 times, killing me, and wounding my boys? How would I want the city, the nation, the world to react? What would I want my family, friends, fraternity brothers, colleagues, and people who did not know me personally to do? Out came, "If 5-0 shoots at me 5-0 times …"
Check it out.