He was named the “neighborhood hero and healer.”
Najee Seabrooks was a “pillar of the neighborhood” who constructed bridges amongst feuding youngsters, rival gang members and victims of gun violence in a city that had noticed its share just before his life was reduce brief at age 31, loved ones and buddies stated at the memorial Saturday.
Police shot and killed Seabrooks right after 5 hours of tense negotiations though he was in the grip of an apparent mental well being episode, stabbing himself and repeatedly calling 911.
Hundreds gathered at the Christian Neighborhood Center in Patterson, a line that wound in rows as soft gospel music played. Seabrooks lay in an open casket, dressed in a black suit and black and white Vans sneakers, his favored footwear.
“We recognize by the quantity of people today right here these days that he was loved,” stated the Reverend Sarah Anthony.
Seabrooks’ perform for the Patterson Healing Collective, a regional nonprofit, drew him to the city’s most vulnerable people today, as nicely as these most probably to commit violence. It also connected him with these with influence, from regional activists to City Council members and the head of a regional hospital, who stated his death really should spur reforms.
The March three incident has renewed urgency in discussions about how emergency solutions manage people today in mental well being crisis, such as the finest way for police to respond to such calls.
In an obituary, his loved ones recalled his positivity and “infectious smile.”
Born and raised in Patterson, Seabrooks was a basketball champion for Eastside Higher College. He earned an associate’s degree from Ventura College in California, but returned residence to Paterson exactly where, right after surviving a drive-by shooting, he started operating as a “higher-danger intervention specialist,” handling some of the nonprofit’s most complicated situations.
Outdoors of perform, his tastes tended toward easier pleasures. Video games and pizza. He trains his younger brother Sutan in basketball. Ice cream in the park with his 4-year-old daughter Sofia.
A man wearing a jacket emblazoned with a memorial portrait of Najee Seabrooks walks into a funeral on Saturday.
“He loved her additional than something and did every thing he could to be taken care of,” his loved ones wrote.
His mother, Melissa Carter, wept as she took 1 final appear at his physique, as roses have been placed in her son’s casket.
“Why?” she screamed as she returned to her seat.
“This should not have occurred,” a person else shouted.
Teddie Martinez was Seabrooks’ mentor at the Patterson Healing Collective, but he stated he was the 1 who discovered “so a lot about life” from the younger Seabrooks, even turning him into a Vans sneaker convert.
“As extended as I have breath in me, Najee’s name will not go in vain,” he stated.
Martinez stated he was denied access to Seabrooks for the duration of the police standoff regardless of operating as a violence interventionist. His group argued that Seabrooks could have survived the ordeal if he had received psychiatric care when he necessary it, and Martinez asked the crowd to “not drop the ball on this” and continue to seek “justice for Najee.”
Lawyer Basic Matthew Platkin’s workplace is investigating Seabrooks’ killing below state law. The workplace released many hours of physique camera footage Thursday displaying police negotiating with Seabrooks hours just before they shot him as he jumped out of a bathroom.
The workplace stated Seabrooks “came out of the bathroom and lunged at the officers with a knife in his hand.”
At a memorial service on Saturday, Lisa Muhammad, who study a tribute, stated Seabrooks’ death, like his life, really should inspire other people.
“That should be the final black man they killed,” she stated.
Editor’s note: If you happen to be dealing with a mental well being disorder, you happen to be not alone. Mental well being issues impact people today from all walks of life and all ages, but they are treatable. Contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Wellness Solutions Helpline at 1-800-662-Support (4357) for therapy referrals and details.
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