UMass Boston community

Image of a Police Car in Cambridge. Image from Flickr.  

Trigger Warning: This article discusses topics that may be sensitive to some readers.

With only a few days into the new year, the UMass Boston community has been reeling from the loss of a student, Sayed Arif Faisal, in a confrontation with Cambridge police. The incident occurred at the Cambridge apartment around 1:15 p.m. on Jan. 4, and Middlesex County is investigating Faisal’s passing and the events that led to the tragic outcome. [1] 

Cambridge police were initially called to the scene after a 911 call reported a man jumping from an apartment window with a knife. According to police and the District Attorney’s investigation, reported by Boston.com, Faisal had run throughout several blocks of the Cambridge neighborhood after seeing police. Officers attempted to verbally engage with Faisal by asking him to put down the knife, but he did not and approached the officers, still holding it. The police tried to de-escalate the situation on-site by firing a "sponge round." After the first attempt failed, the officer discharged their “department-issued firearm” that hit Faisal. [1]

Faisal received medical attention immediately after the incident with the officers. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he later passed away. Cambridge City Hall hosted a City Council meeting on Jan. 9 to discuss the nature of the event. [1,2]

Protestors attended the City Council meeting that night to express their anger and grief. Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui released a statement regarding Faisal’s passing. “Tonight, I share your distress, your confusion, your pain at your lowest point. As city leaders, we have a lot of unfinished work to address and we have to do everything we can to make sure this never happens again,” said Mayor Siddiqui. [2] 

Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow also attended the City Council meeting on Monday. “We’ve worked hard to build trust. I understand that this tragic incident may have shaken that trust,” Commissioner Elow said. She promised that the Cambridge Police Department would be determined and committed to completing this investigation in a transparent manner. [2] 

The Bangladesh Association of New England organized the protest outside the city hall meeting. The event was organized to grieve Faisal’s passing and stand against police racism and brutality. Protesters held signs that read “Justice for Faisal” and “Faisal needed help not bullets.” Many of his loved ones were in attendance to remember his positive impact on the community. [2] 

Tanvir Murad of the Bangladesh Association of New England was the organizer of the protests outside Cambridge City Hall. He spoke to the crowd, keeping Faisal’s memory alive while demanding a proper investigation of the incident. “We came here to request the city, the police department, the district attorney, please do [a] proper investigation. How does it happen? Why [can we] not save one of our brightest kids?” [3]

Cambridge City Manager Yi-An Huang reiterated the Police Commissioner’s promise of a fully-transparent police investigation at the council meeting. However, he clarified that it would take some time to conduct a thorough investigation in order to figure out what really happened to Faisal. “My understanding is that it will be many months before this work is complete and I know that this will be a hard time to process together without the full facts,” said City Manager Huang. [3]

Vice Chancellor Karen Ferrer-Muñiz, sent out a statement in memory of Faisal to the entire UMass Boston student body on Jan. 6. “It is with sadness that I write to inform the UMass Boston community that we have been notified of the death of Sayed Arif Faisal, who was a UMass Boston undergraduate student most recently in the spring of 2022. When enrolled at UMass Boston, Sayed was a Computer Engineering major in the College of Science and Mathematics. We extend our sympathy to Sayed’s family, friends and those at UMass Boston who knew him.” [5]

Ferrer-Muñiz included several support services for students and staff in her statement. For students, UMass Boston Counseling Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as well as the Dean of Students office. UMass Boston also offers 24/7 counseling support by calling 617-287-5660 or 617-287-5690. ComPsych Guidance Resources are available for staff and provide confidential counseling for all. Those seeking help can call 844-393-4983 or through their website, www.guidanceresources.com, using the web ID UMASS. [5]

Sajjad Sanid, also from Bane, has started a GoFundMe page supporting Faisal’s family. It is highly encouraged for those who are able to donate to do so. Sharing the fundraiser on social media is also highly encouraged to spread the word. The fundraiser has received nearly 1,000 donations thus far and is just shy of $55,360 of the fundraiser’s $100,000 goal. [4]

Sources:

  1. https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2023/01/10/cambridge-fatal-police-shooting-sayed-faisal/

  2. https://www.wcvb.com/article/cambridge-police-shooting-protest-massachusetts/42436796

  3. https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2023/01/09/hundreds-demand-answers-at-cambridge-city-hall-about-police-shooting-of-sayed-faisal

  4. https://www.gofundme.com/f/Support-Sayed-Arif-Faisals-Family

  5. Vice Chancellor's email

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