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Paterson community rallies in memory of Najee Seabrooks, anti-violence activist fatally shot by police

Hundreds rally in Paterson to call for justice for Najee Seabrooks
Hundreds rally in Paterson to call for justice for Najee Seabrooks 02:21

PATERSON, N.J. -- The Paterson community held an hours-long rally Tuesday, marching for a community advocate killed by police.

A number of violence prevention organizations joined forces in a march to City Hall, calling for an independent investigation for a police shooting they believe did not have to happen.

"We're going to fight for justice for Najee for as long as it takes," said Lawrence Hamm, with the People's Organization for Progress.

A father, brother, son and community anti-violence activist -- the death of Najee Seabrooks at the hands of Paterson Police brought hundreds out to protest.

"He worked every day, every day, to prevent violence in his community yet died a violent death at the hands of those hired to protect and serve the people," said Will Simpson, with Equal Justice USA.

He was shot Friday by Paterson Police after a four-hour stand-off inside a building on Mill Street.

Seabrooks' family says he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

READ MORE: Family of Paterson, NJ activist Najee Seabrooks speaks with CBS2 after fatal police shooting 

Tuesday night, people rallied through the streets from City Hall to the Paterson Police Department.

"My family is in a time of need, and we just want answers. We just want justice for our brother and our son," family member Eli Carter said.

Family members want police to hand over body cam footage and the names of all the officers involved in Friday's shooting.

Community advocates are also demanding changes in response to mental health emergencies.

"We need to have an assisted crisis team that is not armed and trained to kill," said Zellie Thomas, with Black Lives Matter, Paterson.

Colleagues from the Paterson Healing Collective say they were on scene for hours begging police to help but were not allowed to.

"I keep replaying Friday over and over. Our team of crisis responders begged the police to allow us to help, but they repeatedly denied our request. Despite assisting over 250 Paterson residents since our inception, the police refused to let us help our own brother in crisis, citing a supposed AG guideline. If the police had allowed our trained professionals to handle the situation, our brother would still be alive," one speaker said.

"I'm begging the officer, showing him text messages and things and telling him that Najee said to me, 'All we want to do is to see your face and I'mma come out.' I told the officers this. They did not allow us in," said Teddy Martinez, with the Paterson Healing Collective.

The crowd Tuesday night is demanding change and accountability.

Paterson's mayor says officers tried to de-escalate the situation but couldn't elaborate more.

The New Jersey Attorney General's office is investigating, which is protocol whenever there is a police shooting.

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