Center for Public Service
On April 4th, the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saheed Vassell, a 34 year old black man, was shot nine times and killed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY. Plain clothes police officers responded to several calls complaining of a man walking through the streets pointing gun at people. They later found out that Saheed was unarmed, and the object in his hand was merely a showerhead.
Saheed had a history of mental illness, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder years prior. He was well known by longtime residents of the neighborhood who described him as quirky and harmless. He would often wander aimlessly through the neighborhood offering to help carry bags and sweep the floors of local barber shops.
Like Saheed, my younger brother Aaron also has a history of mental illness. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young boy and suffers from episodes just like the one that cost Saheed his life on April 4th. It is because of him that, I stand here today. When I first learned about the killing of Saheed my heart ached. [excerpt]
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Stewart, Chentese, "Gettysburg Against Gun Violence" (2018). SURGE. 320.