Trigger warning: This article addresses issues surrounding mental health and self Harm.
If you have been following the news during the past few years, you may be thinking to yourself: how many acts of police brutality need to happen before there is change? I know I find it absolutely disheartening every time I read about a new person being hospitalized or killed due to gun or police violence. And unfortunately, this time it happened pretty close to home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Sayed Faisal, a 20-year-old student at UMass Boston from Cambridge was fatally shot in his after being chased by the police. Faisal was a Bangladeshi American and the Bangladesh Association of New England condemned this shooting as an act of police brutality. The police explained that Faisal was allegedly wielding a kukri knife and armed and had appeared to be harming himself. The mayor of Cambridge was “deeply saddened” and offered his condolences to the city. Quinton Y. Zondervan, the city councilor of Cambridge, explained how the police need to be better trained and funds need to be reallocated to provide mental health support to the youth of color.
In light of the shooting, the Cambridge City Council convened on January 18 to discuss how the police force should be better trained and funds reallocated. There are various alternative responses to the police being called when a person is experiencing a mental health emergency. HEART stands for “Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team” and is involved in immediately meeting the needs of those involved in a mental health crisis. The crisis teams consist of people who have experienced marginalization in their life and are trained to have a holistic response to those experiencing a crisis.
The City Council of Cambridge has asked for defunding the police and reallocating funds in the past when there was an increase in racial violence and George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade were murdered by the police. However, the city of Cambridge ignored the request and continued to increase the budget of the police.
This news affected me personally because Faisal was a member of the South Asian community like me. I was inspired to take action and write this article after hearing about what happened through Social Media and a speaker at our Gurdwara, a Sikh Temple in Westborough, Massachusetts. As stated on the Cambridge HEART website: “A mental health crisis should not be a death sentence.” Instead of the police being trained to instantly react and shoot, they should be trained to properly evaluate and respond to the crisis. The police should simply be removed and replaced with alternative, trained professionals if they are unable to properly respond. This WAS a murder and the Sayed Faisal deserves the proper justice through the ongoing protests in Cambridge and the investigation that is being conducted.
I hope you also are inspired to donate and/or take action by spreading the word about this disturbing and heartbreaking incident.
Link to Donate: GoFundMe Fundraiser