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For every innocent life loss as a result of gun violence or excessive force by the police there is a RIP hashtag. These social media markers are meant to raise awareness about injustices around the world and galvanize people to speak out, but they also signify death.
Before people like Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Korryn Gaines, Mike Brown, and countless others were slain victims, they were brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, and cherished friends. Through a new docuseries dubbed Before the Hashtag, Complex Networks sheds light on the real lives of people who have had the misfortune of becoming a RIP hashtag.
Episode one centers on Sean Bell, a 23-year-old man from Queens, NY who was shot and killed on his wedding day by five undercover officers back in 2006. The case grabbed national headlines due to the fact that it involved 50 rounds being fired at Bell and his two friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, who were all unarmed.
Now, more than 10 years after the tragic incident, Guzman and Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, sat down with Complex to share intimate details about who Sean was and why their fight for justice will never stop. With today, May 18th, marking what would have been Bell’s 34th birthday, this is a perfect time to celebrate his life.
Check out the full video above for the true story of Sean Bell… Before the Hashtag.