NEW YORK (AP) _ Thousands of people in everything from trucks, taxis, beat-up cars and shiny Mercedes Benzes gathered Sunday in a sendoff to a West African immigrant whose death at the hands of police has outraged the black community.
A motorcade of somber supporters assembled outside the headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem and accompanied Diallo’s family to Newark International Airport as they prepared to fly his body home to Guinea for burial.
``It was in the midst of all this pain, a beautiful sight to see all these brothers and sisters driving down the highway,″ said Sharpton, who was to accompany the family to Africa. ``As we go to Guinea we must continue the struggle for justice here. ... This cannot be the end, but the beginning.″
Four plainclothes police officers fired 41 bullets at Amadou Diallo, 22, as he stood in the vestibule of his apartment house in the Bronx on Feb. 3. Many have questioned why so many shots were fired.
An attorney for the officers has said that police thought he was armed. At the time, the officers were searching for a rapist, who is still at large.
The shooting is being investigated by the Bronx district attorney’s office with the assistance of the FBI. The officers have been placed on administrative non-enforcement duty.
On Sunday, many of the thousands who took part in the motorcade said were trying to prevent another killing.
``I am doing this so they don’t shoot any more of our people,″ said a taxi driver who identified herself only as Fatima. ``If we didn’t protest certain things, we’d still have no civil rights, no human rights.″