Black Lives Matter co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Melina Abdullah are demanding that Los Angeles police officers no longer be dispatched to minor traffic incidents and are calling for additional actions following the cardiac arrest death of Keenan Anderson, Cullors’ cousin, after he was tased repeatedly by police this month.
A preliminary toxicology-blood screen of Anderson’s blood samples tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, according to LAPD, but members of Black Lives Matter believe Anderson would still be alive had officers not used what BLM considered excessive force.
“We know all too well the ways in which law enforcement has created a painful cycle of death and violence in our communities and families,” Cullors said during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 17, outside Los Angeles City Hall.
“Unfortunately, many of us have been gaslit, attacked and thrown under the bus for simply calling for Black folks to live long, healthy lives, free from the violence of police and criminalization,” she added.
About two dozen people attended the news conference, where Black Lives Matter members made these five demands:
– Mayor Karen Bass not reappoint LAPD Chief Michel Moore to a second term.
– Remove police from traffic stops, mental health crises, schools, transportation facilities “and every place that they obviously don’t belong,” Abdullah said.
– Reform the city’s policy on the use of Tasers – “because less lethal does not mean non-lethal,” Abdullah said.
– LAPD release unedited footage of Anderson’s encounter with police.
– Officers be held accountable for their actions by ending police immunity.
“Don’t let this be a moment. This is a movement,” Abdullah said at the press conference.
Several L.A. city councilmembers also spoke, including Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Hugo Soto-Martinez and Eunisses Hernandez, as well as former Councilmember Mike Bonin. L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath also attended and called for changes to LAPD.
Those who spoke suggested that armed officers shouldn’t respond to minor incidents when sending in an unarmed person trained to deescalate a situation might be more effective.
But currently, Harris-Dawson said, “We do not respond to mental health calls with mental health care. We respond with guns and badges and blaring lights and shouting and commands that people may or may not be in a position to adhere to.”
Anderson, 31, was the father of a 6-year-old and a teacher in Washington, D.C. He was visiting family in L.A. on Jan. 3 when officers encountered him at the site of a traffic collision in Venice, where, according to police, he was exhibiting “erratic behavior.”
Officers struggled to arrest Anderson, who at one point cried out, “They’re trying to George Floyd me,” before he was tased multiple times, according to body camera footage from LAPD.
Anderson was arrested and taken to a hospital, where he died about 4½ hours after being tased, according to police.
LAPD is investigating the use of force, and the L.A. County coroner’s office is conducting its own toxicology tests.
Anderson’s was the city’s third officer-involved death in 2023. Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35, died after being shot by police earlier this month.
Sanchez was reportedly armed with a sharp metal object when he was shot by police in South L.A. Smith had a knife when he was fatally shot by police in the Westlake area.
LAPD is investigating all three use-of-force incidents.
LAPD Chief Moore has raised concerns that in all three instances the person involved was experiencing mental distress but the department’s mental-health intervention team was not called to respond.
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