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Sean Harris died after social workers called police to his home. Rockland activists want to know why they dialed 9-1-1

Rockland activists sent a letter demanding an investigation into why social workers called police to the home of a 19-year-old in crisis.

Every week, activists, including Ashley Dawson (center), continue to ask for answers about what to happened to Sean Harris who died under still mysterious circumstances after a long standoff with police. (Photo by Andrea Swenson)

Sean Harris was a Black Central Nyack resident and Rockland Community College engineering student when he died after a long and intense standoff with police in May 2023.

He had been wielding a bat during a visit with two Rockland County social workers (to what extent is a matter of contention) when they called police to the scene, according to accounts by Harris’ mother and a statement from police. The actual police report has been kept under wraps.

Now, after months of rallies in support of Harris’ family, several groups of Rockland activists have sent a letter demanding an investigation into why the CARE Team social workers called police to the home of a 19-year-old in crisis.

The CARE Team ( (Children’s Community Assistance, Response, and Engagement) was rolled out by the county in 2020 as a mobile response team consisting of a behavioral health worker and a family peer advocate to help stabilize situations involving those under 21 “experiencing non-life-threatening behavioral and/or emotional challenges.“

The letter — penned by Voices of Rockland and signed by Rev. Carl L. Washington, III, Pilgrim Baptist Church in Nyack; Rockland United; EndQiNY; Black Westchester; The Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship; Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow; Proyecto Faro; and the Nyack Center — calls for a probe into the actions of the social workers.

It also asks for the county to identify missteps and procedural errors, and to release a report at the conclusion of its investigation.

It was sent this week to the Rockland County Department of Mental Health and the CEO of Access Supports for Living.

We reached out to the Rockland County Department of Mental Health, which directed us to Access Supports for Living, but we have not heard back.

Rockland County Government touted The CARE Team as a way to “help families,” the letter says.

But instead it “failed Sean Harris, and now as a result of their actions, Sean Harris is dead.”


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