In Response to the Police Killing of Sayed Arif Faisal in Cambridge, MA, on January 4, 2023
We at the Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (HEART) are heartbroken to hear that Cambridge Police shot and killed Sayed Arif Faisal, a 20-year-old Bengali young person, a student at UMass, a son, friend, and a valued member of our Cambridge community.
During this incredibly hard time, we are focused on supporting the community, working in solidarity with those who were closest to Faisal and those negatively impacted by this horrible tragedy, including The Bangladesh Association of New England’s efforts to seek justice for Faisal.
At Cambridge HEART, we envision interconnected local communities that practice care, healing, transformative accountability, self-determination, and that are free of carceral systems. What happened to Faisal did not need to happen. We believe that when members of our community are in distress or are experiencing a crisis, they should be met with patience and compassion, not with guns.
We encourage those who would like to offer their solidarity at this time to Support Sayed Arif Faisal’s Family.
In addition, HEART demands:
A mental health crisis should not be a death sentence.
Sayed Arif Faisal deserved services, not bullets.
Do not dishonor his memory posthumously with slanderous statements such as “a machete wielding madman.”
Islam says love your brothers and sisters in times of weakness and need. If Allah (SWT) can love us when we’re in crisis, then we all deserve to be loved when we are in crisis.
This is not an isolated incident. A young Black man was brutally attacked by the Cambridge Police in Harvard Square in 2018 while experiencing a crisis. In 2020, a young Black man was handcuffed to a fence while in crisis. And now Sayed Arif was MURDERED by the police while in crisis.
We need to remove police from mental health crisis response.
The weapons question: Even if the city had an alternative public safety program in place, this call would have always gone to the police. We need to have a serious and informed conversation about what a “weapon” means. The police were the ones who brought a gun, when he supposedly had a knife.