Councillor joins call of protesters: Release names of officers from the fatal Jan. 4 shooting of Faisal (updated)
Protesters have been calling since Jan. 4 for the names of police officers involved in the shooting death of Arif Sayed Faisal, and now a city councillor has filed a policy order in agreement.
The policy order by Quinton Zondervan, which appears on Monday’s council agenda, notes that “there is no statute or official Cambridge policy that prohibits the release of the name of the officers who were involved” in the shooting of Faisal or any use-of-force incident. It asks for the city manager and staff to report back May 22 on a policy of releasing officer names.
It follows a series of disruptions at City Council meetings in which protesters call for “justice for Faisal.” Several council meetings have recessed during the actions and restarted with councillors calling in remotely; on Monday, the meeting resumed in person after some 30 students spoke in favor of naming the officers and broke into chants.
The protesters’ focus during their speeches during public comment was Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, who had told The Boston Globe that she supported identifying the officers.
“It’s been 125 days since Faisal was murdered, yet the last time the city council had his name on the agenda was in February,” Rafeya Raquib said. “Where is the policy order for releasing the names of the officers involved with murdering Arif Sayed Faisal? Mayor Siddiqui has publicly stated support for releasing the names – over a month ago she said she and Quinton Zondervan were working on a policy order and put it on the agenda. But that has yet to happen.”
Siddiqui’s name is not on Monday’s order, and nor is any other councillor co-sponsoring Zondervan’s request.
“‘I’ve been working on this for some time. It’s not just in reaction to Monday,” Zondervan said Friday. “I did feel it reached a point of either we would do it or not. I did give potential co-sponsors enough time to respond.”
Other councillors declined to sign on, Zondervan said.
“I don’t want to speak for anyone else, and I don’t have a clear sense,” Zondervan said, asked whether councillors had explained why they decided against co-sponsoring the order. “They’ll say their piece on Monday.”
The protesters’ perspective
The order was shared with protest organizer Matthew Kennedy after it was posted Thursday, Zondervan said. Kennedy responded Saturday, saying the order was “a step forward,” but getting the names of officers was just one of four things protesters wanted out of city officials along with an unredacted police incident report, the immediate firing of all involved police officers and prosecution of them to the fullest extent of the law.
“This is not the end of the protests” even if councillors vote Zondervan’s motion through without a lot of added procedural complications, Kennedy said. The order was “the product of a sustained campaign of protests and thousands of people signing petitions,” the work of the Boston branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Bangladesh Association of New England and Boston South Asian Coalition; on Saturday his own group posted a call on Instagram for more people to sign up to speak in support.
Kennedy liked that the order went beyond the shooting of Faisal to cover use-of-force incidents in general. “When we met with the city manager in March, he talked about wanting systemic change,” Kennedy said. “This is also systemic change.”
A voice mail was also left with Siddiqui on Friday to see if she had reaction to share before Monday, and emails seeking comment were sent to Cambridge police and the City Manager’s Office.
A trend toward transparency
Jeremy Warnick, director of communications and media relations for Cambridge police, said he would need to coordinate a response. In the meantime, he directed attention to Feb. 14 statements from police commissioner Christine Elow and City Manager Yi-An Huang saying that “based on all of the information that has been reviewed so far, the department has not identified any egregious misconduct or significant policy, training, equipment or disciplinary violations” that would convince them of the need to release officers’ names before multiple investigations are complete.
The officer who killed Faisal is on paid administrative leave during a series of investigations. He has had no complaints filed against him over a seven-year career with Cambridge police, Elow said.
Protesters, who have been in front of City Hall as well as in meetings over the past months, refer to the leave as “a paid vacation” and scoff at the idea that there was no egregious conduct involved in what they refer to “a brutal murder.”
“Members of the public have a right to know the identities of the officers involved regardless of whether procedural violations or criminal charges are brought against those officers;,” the order says. “There has been a widespread shift in recent years toward releasing the names of officers involved in shootings or killings, including recent examples from Iowa, New Jersey, California, and Arkansas.”
Zondervan said he looked forward to conversation on Monday. “It’s going to be interesting to see how people respond,” Zondervan said. “It’s a very clear ask. We’ll see where the council comes down.”
Faisal was shot fatally by police in Cambridgeport while experiencing a mental health crisis. He was holding a large knife and self-harming, but had been running from confrontation around the neighborhood while holding the knife. The officer fired on Faisal when he shook off a nonlethal round and moved toward them holding the knife.
This post was updated May 13, 2023, with comments and information from Matthew Kennedy.
With all the histrionics involved is it any wonder the police are hesitant to release the names?
At best it’s manslaughter….oh I’m sorry….. personslaughter.
But leave it to Zondy to remind everyone how much he loves ponies.
Much better than micro-managing and virtue-signaling on a single case would be a sensible, holistic policy that lays out clear guidelines on when the city should and should not release police names. Sadly, that seems to be asking too much…
I don’t understand why Zondervan is calling for the release of the policeman’s name. What purpose does it serve? Does he want to harass him? Does he want to hurt him? Picket his house?
I would hope none of the above.
Zondervan is someone who is charged with respecting the law. Why doesn’t he let the legal system play out, and see what the findings are.
Given the vigilante climate of the country is it any wonder that protection may be needed for people in the spotlight. Agree to let the legal system to play out. What do you plan to do with his/ her name?
The worst councilor ever QZ vote him out, is he going to harass the police officer, or worse! No one needs to know. QZ is a real nut, he hates the police and only wants gangs and crooks to have guns, not the police! He needs to go. And wasent Faisal on Drugs! It was a totally justified shooting. QZ needs to go away, hes a trouble maker. Vote him out. No one agrees with him because hes a total nut!
what is QZ going to do to the officer who rightly shot Faisal. QZ is a really scary person that needs to be voted out. and stopped, he has evil intentions. Why else would he want to know.?
Hes a terrible councilor, and Very vindictive man.
The best thing that could happen here is for someone to leak the officer’s name to Cambridge Day or to another local news medium.
In the current climate, it is irresponsible to disclose the officers name, who was doing his job. Period. Full stop. Investigate, but stop the witchhunt. Let’s remember who we are.
The Officer’s name will eventually be released anyway. Once the investigation is scheduled with the court (maybe by July or August, I’m hearing), the info becomes public. I’m not sure what purpose releasing his name now serves.