Body of Brooklyn prisoner who died of COVID-19 after getting vaccine finally released to family

Hawk Newsome and Eddie Segarra protest outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center on Feb. 8th.
Photo by Dean Moses

The body of inmate Edwin Segarra has now been released to his family, according to protest group Black Lives Matter Greater New York.

Edwin Segarra, an inmate of Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center died on Feb. 5 from COVID-19 days after receiving the vaccine at the facility. This information spurred both anger and confusion alike. Segarra’s son, Eddie, told amNewYork Metro on Feb. 8 that the jail refused to provide details surrounding the death, or release the deceased’s body for funeral services, which prompted a protest outside the jail that evening. With megaphones and signs, demonstrators demanded Edwin Segarra be returned to his family. 

amNewYork Metro has now learned that the body was discharged two days later on Feb. 10th,

“I feel really good. I’m happy my family can finally put my father’s body to rest, but there’s still questions that need answering,” Eddie Segarra said.

It is hoped those questions will be answered in the coming days. Despite this victory in the fight for the human rights of black and brown prisoners, Eddie is not resting easy now that his father is—at long last—home. Keeping with their push for a resolution, the family have submitted Edwin Segarra to an autopsy in order to better discern the mystery surrounding his death. Although the process has been and will continue to be an emotional rollercoaster ride, loved ones say they must discover the truth behind what exactly led to his death from the novel coronavirus after being inoculated. This is a turning point in the family’s fight for transparency, which is a triumph they attribute to the aid they received from Black Lives Matter Greater New York. 

“I feel tremendously grateful for BLM Greater NY’s help. Without their help, I didn’t have anyone else to turn to, Black Lives Matter Greater NY, was there for me when I needed them most,” Eddie Segarra said.

Since their inception in 2016, Black Lives Matter Greater New York has swiftly become a trusted ally for persons of color facing injustices. Although the group say they do not seek media attention nor pursue victims, they take pride in their ability to help those in need through their commitment to what they call organized and strategic procedure. Eddie Segarra was conscious of the group’s reputation and reached out to founders Hawk and Chivona Newsome for assistance. The pair take each request on a case-by-case basis and then formulate an individual plan of action that would best serve the person in need. The activists state that they truly believe if they had not conducted the Feb. 8th protest, the family would still be awaiting the body to this day.

Emotions ran wild during the Feb. 8th protest. Photo by Dean Moses

For the Newsomes, the most important aspect is reminding the world that Ediwn Segarra was not just an inmate—a mere number on a shirt. He was, in fact, a father, a grandfather, a man of Muslim faith. He was a person who loved and was loved, despite his crimes. It is with this in mind that Black Lives Matter Greater New York aims to continue raising awareness in this case.

“Being black or brown in this country, you are looked at as a second-class citizen. If you are an incarcerated person, you are looked at as less than human,” Hawk Newsome explained during an interview, also affirming his plans for the future. “We are going to launch another social media campaign and we are going to call the prison and jam up their phone lines. In addition to that, we are going to target legislators—politicians. Politicians in their press conferences tend to shy away from what’s happening behind those bars and we need to know so we can help other people,” Hawk Newsome said.

The Newsome siblings are the offspring of activists who met during a 1969 civil rights rally. They say activism is in their blood and helps drive them to help those like the Segarra family. Now both parties look to the future with expectant eyes as they wait for the autopsy results.

Hawk Newsome and Chivona Newsome called for the body’s release on Feb. 8th. Photo by Dean Moses

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