Sharpton lambasted the judge who acquitted the detectives in the killing of Bell and wounding of his two friends, saying a jury should been seated to decide guilt or innocence.
"If people are on the public payroll, doing their public duty, they should be required to face a public jury," Sharpton said. The officers had opted to have the judge instead of a jury decide the case
Sharpton later promised to "shut the city down" with organized civil disobedience. "Shut it down! Shut it down!" supporters chanted.
In his ruling Friday, Justice Arthur Cooperman said inconsistent testimony, courtroom demeanor and rap sheets of the prosecution witnesses — mainly Bell's friends — "had the effect of eviscerating" their credibility.
"At times, the testimony just didn't make sense," the judge said.
The verdict elicited gasps as well as tears of joy and sorrow. Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 of the shots, wept at the defense table, while Bell's mother cried in the packed courtroom. Shouts of "Murderers! Murderers!" and "KKK!" rang out outside the courthouse.
Protests followed later in the day, and police said two demonstrators were arrested near the site of the shooting Friday night. One was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, the other on a charge of obstructing governmental administration, police said.