Hawa Bah Responds to City Council Decision to Remove Her and the father of #SaheedVassell from Morning Panel Testifying on Proposed Changes to Mental Health Emergency Response Protocols
New York, NY – Today, the New York City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction is holding a hearing on creating an office of community mental health and a citywide mental health emergency response protocol. Mrs. Hawa Bah (the mother of Mohamed Bah, killed by the NYPD in 2012) and Mr. Eric Vassell (father of Saheed Vassell, killed by NYPD in 2019) were confirmed to speak at the hearing and testify on their views of the bills being considered, before the de Blasio administration’s testimony. However, after learning that Mrs. Bah and Mr. Vassell would speak about their opposition to Intro 2210, the Council informed Mrs. Bah and Mr. Vassell that they would no longer be able to speak before the administration.
Below is a statement from Mrs. Bah on the City Council’s decision to change testimony order:
“The City Council made a last-minute decision to remove Mr. Vassell and me from the first panel this morning because I would not testify in support of Intro 2210,” said Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah. “Intro 2210 does not remove police from mental health emergency response and this bill would not have saved my son, Mohamed Bah, if it had been law at the time of his killing. It will not save future lives from police violence in many of these cases. My mother died this weekend, I have family with me, and still I wanted to prioritize testifying today. I had set aside time because of how important this issue is for my family and other families whose loved ones were killed by the NYPD while they were experiencing emotional crises. I feel completely disrespected by the City Council’s decision to remove Mr. Vassell and me from the first panel because we oppose intro 2210. I’m used to the Mayor and the NYPD disrespecting our families whose loved ones have been killed by the NYPD, but for the City Council to deprioritize and try to hide the concerns of the families most harmed by the NYPD’s violence is extremely disappointing.
I want all New Yorkers to think about what happened to me. I watched my 28-year-old son, who was an honors student and had done nothing wrong, die in his own home. I don't want anyone to face what I faced. This should not happen to anyone else. I want everyone to stand with me to protect future generations.”
Mr. Vassell testified and Mrs. Bah ensured her testimony was read during the public testimony period of today’s hearing, as the last-minute change made it impossible for her to testify herself.