I started following the Paterson Healing Collective in 2020. In the wake of the shooting of George Floyd, I wanted to find and follow a group that was working in New Jersey. I grew up in a small suburb in New Jersey, and my dad grew up in Newark. Paterson is right next to Newark.
The Paterson Healing Collective posts frequently. They show photos and videos of what they do: things like handing out free snacks to kids after school, so that the kids know that adults are looking out for them on their walk home; visiting victims’ families in the wake of assault and gun violence; providing alternatives to incarceration through restorative justice programs. They also throw parties for each other to celebrate birthdays.
This morning I saw that one of their members, Najee Seabrooks, has been shot by police. The full story is on justice4najee.com — a short version is that he had a mental health incident and called the police, who went into his home and shot him. His mother was not allowed to ride with him in the ambulance to the hospital.
I have heard too many stories like this. I woke up one morning in 2020 and the whole world had heard a story like this. But Black people have been experiencing this for hundreds of years, and they continue to experience it: senseless and unjust violence at the hands of police. One woman in my church in Seattle had her child die in jail because the guards wouldn’t give them their medicine. Another’s cousin was shot by police — after he himself had called the police.
To quote my friend, “If we can’t call the cops, who can we call?”