By Richard Nieva
William Bell still can’t sleep at night.
“It’s not easy,” said Bell, the father of Sean Bell, the 23-year-old groom-to-be gunned down outside of a Queens night-club in 2006 on the night of his bachelor party by a team of plainclothes policemen.
This revelation came during a panel on violence and grief at the 2011 National Action Network convention.
“It’s one side of the situation that something may happen to you. It’s another side to deal with what happened to you,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who introduced the discussion.
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The Bell family, including Sean’s mother Valerie and would-be wife Nicole, made a special appearance on the panel — moderated by Terrie Williams, author of “Black Pain,” and including other victims of personal tragedies.
Valerie Bell spoke about the painful, visceral connection with her son the night he died. She had never felt labor pains with Sean, she said, having given birth by Cesarean section. But on the night of his murder, she said, “that was the night I felt my labor pains.”
William Bell discussed the difficulty of expressing emotion for some Black men, but readily admitted that he weeps openly.
“From birth, Black men are told: suck it up. Don’t show emotion,” Williams responded.
Also on the panel was Donna Hood, mother of Kevin Lamont Miller Jr., a 13-year-old bullet killed by a stray bullet in Queens.
“It’s come to a point where we expect, it’s okay to bury our children,” she said, breaking into tears.
At one point, Williams asked every mother and father in the audience who has lost a child to stand up. About six did, and she invited them all to the podium to tell their stories.
One man shared the story of his own son that was shot and killed. As he left the podium, William Bell stood up to embrace the man, revealing on his back an artist’s drawing of his son Sean.