Sean Bell's widowed fiancé, Nicole Paultre Bell, his father, William Bell, and Rev. Al Sharpton spoke to the rally from a portable loudspeaker.
A National Action Network (NAN) press release billed the action as a "'slowdown'... to protest the verdict in the Sean Bell case."
"We thank Critical Mass for inviting us here today," said Sharpton. "Because when you demand the right to ride, that is all Sean Bell was trying to do that night, was ride."
Critical Mass bicyclists have faced harassment and persecution at the hands police over the years while trying to simply ride the streets of New York.
Sharpton also mentioned his support of marriage equality for all regardless of sexual orientation during the rally. New York Governor David Patterson recently advised State offices to honor gay marriages performed in other states in keeping with current state law.
More demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience are being planned to bring justice for Sean Bell and his family, as well as making structural changes to the New York Police Department to ensure such a tragedy never happens again. "Let's ride together, so we can live together," said Sharpton.
Sharpton also called for a citywide town hall meeting against violence 10:30 am tomorrow, Saturday May 31, in light of recent shootings in Harlem. The mass meeting will be at NAN headquarters (106 West 145th Street at Malcolm X Blvd.) and will be followed by a march to Mount Morris park at 11:30 am.
The Critical Mass rally ended with a unique image: Rev. Al Sharpton got on a bicycle and rode across 14th Street on the south end of the park through the intersection, being chased all the way by a crowd of news photographers, gawkers and passers by. Other bicyclists mounted up and headed to the streets.
Gabcast! CPNY Blog Audio #2 - Rev. Al Sharpton speech at Critical Mass
Rev. Al Sharpton speaks to gathered supporters and bicyclists at the Critical Mass Bike Ride, Friday, may 30 in Manhattan. Riders then too to the streets to bring attention to police accountability issues and too demand justice for Sean Bell who was killed by police in 2006.