Following the police shooting death of Brooklyn resident Saheed Vassell, hundreds of New Yorkers showed up to demand justice for Vassell and his family on Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, police shot 34-year-old Vassell 10 times after receiving 911 calls that someone was waving a silver gun around in the neighborhood of Crown Heights. Vassell wasn’t holding a gun, but instead a thin metal pipe with a knob attached. He was killed.
A father to a teenage boy and a son of Jamaican immigrants, Vassell was known in the community to do odd jobs for various shops, and for living with mental illness. Community members previously told reporters that local police interacted with Vassell enough to have known not to react to his behavior by fatally shooting him.
On the move now to the police precinct. pic.twitter.com/2xr77Cwyaf
— Talal Ansari (@TalalNAnsari) April 5, 2018
— Emma Whitford (@emma_a_whitford) April 5, 2018
The vigil-turned-protest, held at the corner where police approached Vassell at 4:40p.m., the exact time of Vassell’s death the previous day, was organized by elected officials as well as the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, according to amNewYork.
At the rally, Vassell’s mother, Lorna, told the audience that her son didn’t deserve to be killed for holding a piece of iron and that she wants justice for the murder of her son. Women’s March co-founder Linda Sarsour also spoke at the rally, demanding for the imprisonment of the officers who fatally shot Vassell.
“I want to make it clear Saheed came from a good family and they had no right to shoot him down, and he was not a gunman,” Lorna Vassell said, amNewYork reported. “I want no one to portray him as a lowlife. He was a good man.”
The protest later marched to the 71st Police Precinct, blocks away from where Vassell was shot, demanding for the names of the officers involved in his death to be released. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announced on Thursday that it opened an investigation into Vassell’s death.
On the other side of the country, Tanya Faison, the founder of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter, spoke to Capital Public Radio on Wednesday saying the group will demonstrate every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until justice is served to Stephon Clark, the unarmed Black man who police shot and killed in his grandparents’ backyard on March 18 while he was holding a cell phone.
The chapter’s protests run from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., but often run later, with several hundred people attending the downtown demonstrations, the radio station reported.
Demonstrators are asking for DA Anne Marie Schubert to indict the two officers who shot Clark on March 18th. Schubert hasn’t commented on details about the case pic.twitter.com/b1oFiFZifO
— Adhiti Bandlamudi (@oddity_adhiti) April 4, 2018
According to a report from the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s campaign finance records show that days after Clark’s death, she received $13,000 in campaign donations from two local law enforcement unions. The unions involved and Schubert’s campaign said the timing of the donations are “an unfortunate coincidence,” while activists are deeming the donations an example of collusion between prosecutors and police.
Chapter members vow to continue to show support for Clark until the two police officers involved in his death are fired and criminally charged. However, on Schubert’s timeline, that may take another six months to a year.