Four years ago, just hours before he was to be married, Sean Bell was shot and killed in a hail of police-fired bullets as he and his friends left the Queens nightclub where he celebrated his bachelor party. The controversial trial split New Yorkers (yet again) on deadly force by police and racial profiling, and resulted in acquittal for the officers involved. But it also left a woman without the father of her two children.
That fiancée, Nicole Paultre-Bell, spent the years after the shooting seeking justice for her would-be husband, but also searching for a way to constructively channel her grief. Now she may have found it through announcing her run for City Council to represent the Jamaica, Queens district where Bell was killed.
“This is what life threw my way. It made me realize that there are serious problems out there,” she told the New York Daily News. “The community stood up for me, and now it’s my turn to stand up for the community.”
Paultre-Bell, 26, who attends York College, is running for the seat left vacant after the death of councilman Thomas White Jr. She says she’s campaigning on a platform of education, elder care and better relations between the community and police. Actually, she had become an activist not long after the shooting by starting her When It’s Real It’s Forever nonprofit.
However, she’s already up against more seasoned politicians who are also seeking the council seat and are ready to throw jabs. “She has name recognition?” said ex-councilman Alan Jennings, a contender in the Nov. 2 special election. “So did George Bush. But he couldn’t get elected in this district.”