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Najee Seabrooks rally draws more than 250 after fatal police-involved shooting in Paterson

By Joe Malinconico Tue, March 7, 2023 at 10:55 PM EST


PATERSON — With a vigil, a rally and a march, more than 250 protesters expressed their outrage Tuesday night over the fatal police shooting of violence intervention specialist Najee Seabrooks.


Dozens of people from Newark and Trenton joined angry Patersonians in the series of protests in the city’s downtown area over what activists called the senseless shooting of a 31-year-old man going through a mental health crisis.


In a vigil outside the Paterson Healing Collective offices where Seabrooks had worked, Trenton pastor Charles Boyer proclaimed that the Paterson police “have blood on their hands from decades of snuffing out Black lives."


“We need to see the Paterson Police Department taken over by people who have a heart for Black people,” said Boyer, founder of the Salvation and Social Justice group in Trenton.

Participants in a rally for Najee Seabrooks march on Market Street towards Paterson City Hall on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Najee Seabrooks, a member of the violence intervention group the Paterson Healing Collective, was fatally shot by Paterson police after a standoff while he was barricaded inside his home.


Newark activist Larry Hamm asserted that Seabrooks was the latest casualty in a disproportionate number of police killings of young Black men.


If he was white, he’d be alive today,” Hamm proclaimed.


After the first rally, demonstrators walked to City Hall and later marched on Paterson police headquarters three blocks away.

After the first rally, demonstrators walked to City Hall and later marched on Paterson police headquarters three blocks away.

Participants in a rally for Najee Seabrooks outside of Paterson City Hall on Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Najee Seabrooks, a member of the violence intervention group the Paterson Healing Collective, was fatally shot by Paterson police after a standoff while he was barricaded inside his home. At police headquarters, there was a series of temporary metal fence barriers blocking access to the building’s entrance. Some people in the front line of marchers kicked down the first metal barrier. That prompted police officers gathered in the headquarters vestibule to put on riot helmets, and a confrontation seemed imminent.

But the marchers moved no closer to headquarters and the helmeted cops remained inside the vestibule. Gradually the crowd dissipated.


Protesters on Tuesday demanded the termination of the officers involved in the shooting and the release of body-camera recordings of the incident.


Seabrooks was shot last Friday after barricading himself in his Paterson apartment. A standoff that lasted more than four hours ensued, and officials have said Seabrooks was wielding two knives at the time police shot him.


Paterson Healing Collective members at the rallies repeated their previous assertions that they pleaded with police to let them speak with Seabrooks.


“The police refused to let us help our brother in arms,” said Liza Chowdhury of the Paterson Healing Collective, asserting that Seabrooks would not have been killed if her group was allowed to intervene. “He’d be right here, and we wouldn’t have to do none of this shit.”


Many speakers talked of the need to hold public officials accountable for Seabrooks’ death.


“My advice to the power structure of this city is if you’re too scared of making the necessary changes, move out the way,” said the Rev. Weldon McWilliams IV, a Paterson pastor.


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