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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston community members seek justice for Sayed Arif Faisal


Students attending the Rally for Sayed Faisal in Cambridge. Photo courtesy of James Cerone/ Mass Media Staff.  

On Monday at 6 p.m., several student groups and community members, including local activists, rallied near Cambridge City Hall for the death of Sayed Arif Faisal. Faisal, a 20-year-old UMass Boston student and Cambridge resident, was shot and killed by Cambridge Police Officers on Jan. 4 outside of a Cambridge apartment.  

Protestors chanted “Justice for Faisal” and demanded that city officials take immediate and stringent actions to investigate the case and deliver justice to Faisal. The protest was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and had speakers including students from UMass Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Organizers presented several demands, including releasing complete police reports to the public, releasing the names of the officers and terminating them immediately from their positions.  

The murder has escalated concerns around racism, mass shootings, police brutality and lack of transparency from city officials. On Feb. 14, Police Commissioner Christine Elow announced in a statement that “the department has not identified any egregious misconduct or significant policy, training, equipment or disciplinary violations” during the preliminary review.  

The officer present on site remains on paid administrative leave and complying with the law. The internal review process will conclude after the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office finishes its independent investigation involving all the evidence, reports and findings.  

“We will work with residents, the City Council, and City Manager to determine how we can collectively move forward to best support our community,” commented Elow. 

The UMass Boston community is still grieving the demise of Faisal. On Jan. 6, Vice Chancellor Karen Ferrer-Muñiz sent out an email to the student community informing the student body of Faisal’s death, as a tragic accident. In memory of Sayed Arif Faisal, an open letter is drafted to the UMass Boston administration, faculty, students and staff titled, “A Call for Transformative Justice.”   

The letter highlighted and emphasized the life and work of Faisal as a student. “Like many of our students, he came from an immigrant and working-class home. He lived with his family in Cambridge and worked to help support them financially, volunteering as well as an interpreter with both The Welcome Project and The Liaison Interpreters Program of Somerville.”  

The letter also exuded a feeling of disdain toward the email sent by Vice Chancellor Ferrer-Muñiz. “[The] email erased the violent and senseless circumstances in which Arif died at the hands of the Cambridge Police. It was silent about the police actions that were already being condemned by family and community members.” The UMass Boston community members strongly felt that the letter failed to address pressing issues like police brutality and racism.  

“We call on the Chancellor and his administration to exhibit leadership, courage and clarity on the most pressing and ongoing issues of our time of which Arif’s murder, and now Tyre Nichols’s murder, are the most recent instances.” 

Faculty, staff and students are called upon to propose some transformative actions in response to the killing of Faisal. Some of the proposed responses include calling upon the whole campus community to honor Faisal’s memory publicly, for the chancellor to release a public statement denouncing the killing of Faisal, et cetera. 

The letter also addressed the lack of mental health resources on campus and urged to increase the availability of mental health services on campus. It is also suggested to establish a unit of first responders to mental health crises independent of the police. One of the other demands put forth in the letter is calling the administration for a campus-wide cancellation of classes on Friday, March 24, to host town halls and informational sessions for faculty and students regarding approaching the mental health crisis among students.   

“Justice for Faisal Petition” has been circulated across the campus, reiterating the earlier demands. The link to the petition can be found here 

About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor