Photo: Community members and Samantha Felix at the vigil. Liberation photo/Zoe Alexandra.
Three years have passed since Nassau County police officers shot and killed 19-year-old Matthew Felix in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York City.
Felix was killed on Feb. 25, 2020, when Nassau County police officers pursued him in unmarked vehicles from Long Island into Queens and fatally shot him at a traffic stop. The police claimed that they were pursuing Felix because he was allegedly a suspect in a carjacking case.
However, like with most cases of police killings of Black people, police never produced evidence pointing to this claim nor did they substantiate why they fatally shot a suspect that they could have apprehended.
Despite the overwhelming irregularities in the case, in June 2021, New York State Attorney Letitia James announced that no charges would be filed against the Nassau County police officers that were responsible for his murder. However, this announcement has not deterred the Felix family and local organizers in continuing to demand justice and accountability.
“These past three years have definitely been the most difficult three years of me and my family’s lives,” Samantha Felix, Matthew Felix’s sister, told Liberation News, “And the fight for justice has not been linear, sometimes we are out fighting for him and it feels like no one is listening and that no one cares. But then there are days when I remember how many people showed up for Matthew.
“With the fight for justice I have found a community of people who have similar goals and who are trying to end this systemic racist system that allows you to one day walk outside your home and not even know if you are going to return because the police thought you fit the profile,” Felix continued. “Sometimes the fight for justice is not something you will necessarily see within your case but within other people’s cases or other reforms.”
‘We are making a promise to continue fighting’
Organizers with the Party for Socialism and Liberation have worked with the Felix family over the years, organizing speakouts to bring attention to Matthew’s murder. The latest event was held on Feb. 25, the third anniversary of his death. Braving below freezing temperatures, the Felix family, members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and local Queens community members held a vigil to remember his life and to demand justice.
“For me and my mom, it’s impossible for us to forget this every single day,” Samantha Felix told the crowd at the vigil. “We have a lot of unanswered questions. They closed the case and, in the reports, there are a lot of contradicting statements. Why were Long Island police in Queens? And until we get those answers, we will be out here demanding justice.”
PSL organizer and longtime anti-police brutality activist Kerbie Joseph also addressed the need to demand justice for Matthew and highlighted that his murder and the impunity of police were not isolated events.
“Police brutality is not an isolated incident, within the police budget there is money put in to pay out settlements to families after police officers harm and kill them — it is in their budget!” Joseph pointed out. “They budget for community death … $11 billion go to the NYPD. Every sector of city needs were cut to find money to give to fortify the police.”
Joseph emphasized, “Police get to act without any accountability. They can shoot first, maybe questions will be asked later.” She added, “This is not just a vigil, we are making a promise to continue to fight for Matthew, not just once a year but every day.”
While authorities have attempted to close the door on Matthew’s case and the demand for accountability, Matthew’s family and the community have vowed to continue.
Samantha Felix emphasized that what motivates her to keep fighting is her brother.
“He is the motivation,” she said. “I don’t want his death to go in vain because I feel like if I allow it to go in vain, that is when you truly lose hope for society and I don’t want to get to that. So, I am just reminding myself of the good times, memories.”