Source: Douglas Rissing / Getty
People have been pushing for mental health professionals to be dispatched in lieu of or alongside police officers when responding to calls about individuals who may be in crisis. This story serves as another example of why those advocates are right.
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According to a report on NorthJersey, a 31-year-old anti-gun violence activist named Najee Seabrooks was gunned down by police officers in Paterson, New Jersey. Let them tell it, Seabrooks had broken water pipes, started a small fire and approached police with knives after allowing them into his apartment.
Activists in the Paterson area are demanding significant changes to department protocol and the release of the body camera footage for public accountability.
“No amount of diversity, de-escalation training, or increased use of surveillance technology will end the endemic problem of violence and corruption in the Paterson police department,” said the statement, issued by Paterson BLM leader Zellie Thomas. “A complete restructuring of the Paterson Police Department along with fully funded community safety teams is long overdue in Paterson.”
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh spoke Friday about the incident and claimed that police officers were injured which justified their use of force.
“Many important details about yesterday’s incident are not yet public. However, we know that our police officers were on the scene for four hours trying to de-escalate the situation and permitted a family member to assist in those efforts to reach a peaceful resolution,” Sayegh said. “Throughout the crisis, several officers were injured. We look forward to the attorney general’s review of this matter and will release further details of the incident at the appropriate time. It is a sad day anytime there is a loss of life in our community. My prayers and condolences are with Mr. Seabrook’s family, friends and our impacted community.”
The sick irony of this situation is that Najee Seabrooks worked with Paterson Healing Collective to combat gun violence in the community.