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Paterson community seeks answers after anti-violence advocate is killed in standoff with police

Friends and family say that Najee Seabrooks dedicated his life to reducing gun violence in Paterson

News 12 Staff

Mar 7, 2023, 3:22 AM

Updated 447 days ago


More information is coming to light about a police encounter that left an anti-violence advocate dead in Paterson.
Friends and family say that Najee Seabrooks dedicated his life to reducing gun violence in the city.
Authorities say that Seabrooks had a knife last Friday as he was going through what's described as a mental health crisis. One of the officers at the scene was actually a family member. But that provides little solace for a community demanding to see the police body camera videos.
Seabrooks was part of a group that reaches out to victims -- often men and boys -- mired in a cycle of gun violence.
Joseph Moore bonded with Seabrooks over basketball back in middle school. Moore says Seabrooks was -- in some ways -- the face of the city, a man who finally found his way by making a positive impact.
"Najee was a testament of like, ‘I can do it. I can do it within my own community,’" Moore says.
He says that this is why Seabrooks’ death resonates with his supporters. Seabrooks worked for the Paterson Healing Collective, which partners with Saint Joe's Hospital. The group says it was not allowed to talk to Seabrooks during Friday's standoff.
“When he needed his community the most, he was denied the help he required, and the police response failed him,” a spokesperson for the Paterson Healing Collective wrote in a statement on Friday.
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh met with Seabrooks’ mother on Monday to offer support.
"I want this to be fair, impartial, as far as an investigation is concerned so we can get to the truth and make sure the public is reassured,” Sayegh says.
The mayor says the city just got a grant that would partner mental health experts with police responding to calls. But he says that this program is still in the planning stages.
A rally is scheduled for Tuesday night. The mayor says he's met with the public safety director and chief to focus on de-escalation.

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