This Day in History

Nov. 25, 2006: Sean Bell Murdered

Time Periods: 2001-
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship
Sean Bell Memorial | Zinn Education Project

Sean Bell memorial. Source: Robert Stolarik, New York Times

Sean Elijah Bell (1983–2006) was murdered on Nov. 25, 2006. As explained at

The Sean Bell shooting took place in the New York City, New York borough of Queens on November 25, 2006 — the night of Bell’s bachelor party and the day before his wedding. Bell and two close friends were shot a total of fifty times by five uniformed and plainclothes undercover New York Police Department officers. Bell died, and two of his friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were severely wounded. Continue reading.

Teacher and author Renee Watson describes how she teaches about the murder of Bell and so many other people of color by the police in “The Murder of Sean Bell: From Pain to Poetry” in Rethinking Schools.

“I’m afraid that one day I’ll be shot by the cops for no reason,” a 7th-grade student blurted out in our class discussion. My teaching partner and I had asked students to call out their hopes and fears.

“What do you hope for your community? What is it about your community that makes you afraid?” we asked. I wrote their answers on chart paper and by the end of the discussion, our class list included better schools, more parks, peace, and safer neighborhoods.

Our list also included violence, drugs, bullying, and police brutality.

Find resources below to teach about the movement for Black lives.