Go beyond the iconic crack to learn how this State House bell was transformed into an extraordinary symbol. Abolitionists, women's suffrage advocates and Civil Rights leaders took inspiration from the inscription on this bell. Plan your visit to the Liberty Bell Center to allow time to view the exhibits, see the film, and gaze upon the famous cracked bell. No tickets are required and hours vary seasonally.
From Signal to Symbol The State House bell, now known as the Liberty Bell, rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House. Today, we call that building Independence Hall. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly Isaac Norris first ordered a bell for the bell tower in 1751 from the Whitechapel Foundry in London. That bell cracked on the first test ring. Local metalworkers John Pass and John Stow melted down that bell and cast a new one right here in Philadelphia. It's this bell that would ring to call lawmakers to their meetings and the townspeople together to hear the reading of the news. Benjamin Franklin wrote to Catherine Ray in 1755, \"Adieu, the Bell rings, and I must go among the Grave ones and talk Politicks.\" It's not until the 1830s that the old State House bell would begin to take on significance as a symbol of liberty.
The Crack No one recorded when or why the Liberty Bell first cracked, but the most likely explanation is that a narrow split developed in the early 1840s after nearly 90 years of hard use. In 1846, when the city decided to repair the bell prior to George Washington's birthday holiday (February 23), metal workers widened the thin crack to prevent its farther spread and restore the tone of the bell using a technique called \"stop drilling\". The wide \"crack\" in the Liberty Bell is actually the repair job! Look carefully and you'll see over 40 drill bit marks in that wide \"crack\". But, the repair was not successful. The Public Ledger newspaper reported that the repair failed when another fissure developed. This second crack, running from the abbreviation for \"Philadelphia\" up through the word \"Liberty\", silenced the bell forever. No one living today has heard the bell ring freely with its clapper, but computer modeling provides some clues into the sound of the Liberty Bell.
Carl Williams, New Jersey's Chief of Troopers, was dismissed in March 1999 by Governor Christine Todd Whitman soon after a news article appeared in which he defended profiling because, he said, \"mostly minorities\" trafficked in marijuana and cocaine. Williams' remarks received wide media attention at a time when Whitman and other state officials were already facing heightened media scrutiny over recent incidents of profiling and public anger over police mistreatment of black suspects.
In Arizona, the Phoenix New Times told the story of Larrel Riggs, a 42-year-old marketing executive who was pulled over on a highway by two officers from the Scottsdale Police Department in 1997. The police demanded to see his driver's license and registration. When Riggs handed over the documents, he was told to wait in the car. Then, instead of walking back to their car in the normal way, the officers slowly backed away from Riggs, watching him, hands on their guns. \"I really got a fright,\" said Riggs. \"It's broad daylight, I'm being polite, I've given them the information, I've complied with everything they asked me to do, and still they're treating me like a criminal.\"
In California in 1997, San Diego Chargers football player Shawn Lee was pulled over, and he and his girlfriend were handcuffed and detained by police for half an hour on the side of Interstate 15. The officer said that Lee was stopped because he was driving a vehicle that fit the description of one stolen earlier that evening. However, Lee was driving a Jeep Cherokee, a sport utility vehicle, and the reportedly stolen vehicle was a Honda sedan. (Source: San Diego Union Tribune)
One of the plaintiffs, Jhenita Whitfield, who is black, said she and her sister, who is in the Navy, were stopped May 5, 1989, while driving through Eagle County from San Diego with four small children. She said she was told that she failed to signal properly before changing lanes. The deputy then asked to search her car. She consented. \"I didn't want any hassle,\" she said. \"I didn't feel I had a choice. The kids were hungry and one had to go to the bathroom. I figured, let's do it and get the hell out of here.\"
In Connecticut, the issue of DWB has arisen in several incidents. Most prominent, perhaps, was the disclosure last year of a 1993 memo by the chief of an all-white police force in Trumbull, a suburb of Bridgeport. In the memo, Chief Theodore Ambrosini advised officers of a series of armed robberies in town and urged them to take the offensive. \"One form of deterrence might be to develop a sense of proclivity toward the type of persons and vehicles which are usually involved in these crimes,'' the memo said. \"Not only is it our obligation to enforce the motor vehicle laws, but in doing so, we are provided with a profile of our community and those who travel within its boundaries.\"
In Maine, the Portland Press Herald last year reported that the city's minority residents feel the pressure of police bias. In a front-page article, the newspaper told the story of Michael Stovall, a 35-year-old lawyer who passed a police officer going in the opposite direction on a city street and watched as the patrolman did a U-turn and pulled up behind him. Stovall was followed for several blocks while the officer spoke into his radio. Finally, the newspaper said, the patrolman left, leaving Stovall to wonder.
Another African American, Judith Hyman, said she was stopped by a Portland police officer while driving on a city street with her son, who is black, and his girlfriend, who is white. \"The officer pulled us over to see if we had our seat belts on,\" Hyman said. \"We all were wearing seat belts and I wasn't speeding, so, really, why were we stopped\"
The newspaper also told the story of Mutima Peter, an immigrant from Congo and pastor of the African International Church, who said he was once questioned by an officer after parking his car. \"When I got out, an officer asked me for my driving license and asked me who is the person I know in Portland,\" Mutima said. \"I told him I know [Police Chief Michael] Chitwood and he said 'OK' and left. People said I should speak out, but this is a general thing for many people.\" (Source: The Portland Press Herald)
In 1998, Nelson Walker, a young Liberian man attending college in North Carolina, was driving along I-95 in Maryland when he was pulled over by state police who said he wasn't wearing a seatbelt. The officers detained him and his two passengers for two hours as they searched for illegal drugs, weapons, or other contraband. Finding nothing in the car, they proceeded to dismantle the car and removed part of a door panel, a seat panel and part of the sunroof. The officers found nothing and in the end handed Walker a screwdriver, saying, \"You're going to need this,\" as they left the scene. (Source: The Raleigh News-Observer)
Gary D. Rodwell repeatedly refused to consent to a search of his vehicle when he was stopped for three hours on I-95 in 1998. He said that the officer threatened to arrest him and called in a canine unit to search the vehicle. When no drugs were found, the officer accused Rodwell of lying, took his keys and called a tow truck to impound the Pontiac Bonneville Rodwell was driving. Rodwell had to pay the tow truck driver to get his car back. He is now a part of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Maryland. (Source: The Baltimore Sun)
In Massachusetts, speaker after speaker, including black doctors and lawyers, testified before a legislative committee in April 1999 about being stopped by police officers, apparently because of the color of their skin. The speakers were supporting a bill that would require the state to collect traffic stop statistics to see if blacks were being stopped inordinately. \"This is not a new thing for anyone that is black in this city,\" said Ajibola Osinubi, 44, a native of Nigeria who heads his own advertising and public relations firm in Boston. (Source: Associated Press)
Yawu Miller, a black reporter with the Bay State Banner, decided to find out how long two black men could drive at night in Brookline, a predominantly white community, before being pulled over by the police. It happened almost immediately. Three cruisers with flashing blue lights appeared in Miller's rear view mirror. One cruiser drew up along side Miller's car and asked, \"Are you lost\" When Miller replied in the negative, the officer said, \"You're from Roxbury. Any reason why you're driving around in circles\" (Source: Bay State Banner)
In Michigan last year invited officials African Americans and other minorities to air their grievances about police mistreatment at an all-day forum. Among those telling their stories was Alicia Smith of Oak Park, a 19-year-old African American who was driving to a movie with friends in her hometown when two white officers stopped her without explanation and asked where she was going. \"There was no probable cause,\" said Smith, who wasn't ticketed. \"It was just harassment.\"
In Nebraska, the Omaha Human Relations Board released a series of recommendations last year for improving relations between police and minority communities. Among the recommendations, the Omaha World-Herald reported, were that the Mayor's Office and City Council address complaints that police target minorities for traffic stops and subject them to other forms of harassment. Ron Estes, an African American firefighter, told of visiting a model home in a west Omaha subdivision. Although the homes were closed, Estes told the Human Relations Board that he spoke to a resident of the subdivision for about 30 minutes while sitting in his Chevrolet Blazer. A few days later, he stopped by his fire station to pick up his gear when he overheard an Omaha police