New York To Pay $7 Million Settlement After Police Shooting

Tell Me More guest host Rebecca Roberts and Lee Hill, the program's multimedia producer, comb through listener feedback and offer important news updates to recent conversations heard on the program. Hear reaction to a recent debate over marijuana legalization and its anticipated effect on black communities in California. Also hear what New York City has agreed to pay the family of Sean Bell, the unarmed 23-year-old who was shot and killed in 2006 after police fired 50 bullets into his car.

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REBECCA ROBERTS, host:

And now we go to Backtalk. It's the segment that lifts the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and where listeners get to talk back. Lee Hill, the program's digital media guy is here with me. Hey, Lee. What are people saying this week?

LEE HILL: Hey, Rebecca, well, first of all, welcome to Backtalk.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

HILL: And this week we talked about the split among African-Americans in California over Proposition 19 and that would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Some agree with the measure citing research that shows blacks are far more likely to suffer criminal consequences for illegal drug use than whites.

Others argue that marijuana is a gateway drug and that legalizing it will only lead to more aggressive drug abuse. Here's a clip from our TELL ME MORE conversation this week with Pastor Ron Allen. He's bishop of what he calls the International Faith Based Coalition in California.

Reverend RON ALLEN (Bishop, International Faith Based Coalition): Not only are blacks arrested for marijuana, when we take a look at crack cocaine and other crimes that are committed in the black neighborhood, we could see the disparities of arrests there also. Yes, we do need to talk and have a dialogue why blacks are being arrested and Latinos more than anyone else?

HILL: Regarding arrests, we received a post to our online forum from blogger Donna. I caught up with her and here is what she had to say.

DONNA: Perhaps the reason more blacks were arrested for marijuana possession than whites is that more blacks live in urban areas where there are more cops. I live in a very rural area, where we have no police and depend on state troopers in every way in the event of an emergency.

However, almost my entire neighborhood would be locked up for marijuana possession if we were all placed in an urban setting. I don't think this is a black/white issue as much as it is a matter of geography.

ROBERTS: So, Lee, we also have a few updates to some past TELL ME MORE stories. Last week, the program reported on a situation brewing in Utah where a list containing very personal information about 1,300 allegedly illegal immigrants was sent to the media and to law enforcement agencies. The center demanded that everyone on it be deported. We've since learned that two state employees responsible for the list have been fired. And, Lee, we should also mention that state officials have found that some of those who were on that list were actually in the U.S. legally.

HILL: And, Rebecca, there's also been an update in the case of Sean Bell. He's the 23-year-old man who was unarmed but killed when New York City police fired 50 shots into his car back in 2006 on what would have been his wedding day. Three of the officers involved were acquitted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges. And you might remember the case sparked quite a fury far outside of New York.

And this week we learned the city agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Bell's family and by two friends who were with him that night who were also shot and injured.

ROBERTS: There's also one other update, Lee. A few months ago, Michel spoke with Jeremy Lin. He is the only Asian-American on the basketball team at Harvard University. Well, now he's actually made a huge leap. He's becoming the first Taiwanese-American playing for the NBA. Mr. Lin has signed with the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. So we may be seeing him as a point guard. Thank you so much, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Rebecca.

ROBERTS: And remember, with TELL ME MORE the conversation never ends. You can call the comment line at 202-842-3522. Remember to leave your name, please. You can also log onto the website. Go to npr.org, click on programs and then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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