Urban League leaders said the cold blooded killing of a disabled man as he tried to flee police reveals an almost delusional mindset on the part of the Huntington Park officers who shot him, underscoring the urgency of transforming police culture and accountability.
“Absolutely no one, including the officers involved, can possibly be expected to believe that a double amputee, dragging his body across the ground, presented a threat warranting the use of lethal force,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “The officers’ confident expectation that their ludicrous account of the shooting would be accepted is as chilling as the shooting itself. Anthony Lowe is not the victim of rogue officers violating policies and procedures; he is the victim of a police culture that encourages casual and unjustified violence without the slightest expectation of consequences or discipline.”
The officers’ behavior, like that of the Memphis police who beat Tyre Nichols to death early last month, is a devastating betrayal of public trust, the leaders said.
“What police officers did to Anthony Lowe, and far too many others, must be condemned and cannot be tolerated,” Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Michael Lawson said. “This is yet another tragic scenario where family members and the public would be left in the dark if it were not for bystander cell phone footage. When officers who have sworn to protect the public act irresponsibly and needlessly kill, they must be fired immediately. We must make it clear that officers perpetuating these acts will be held accountable and justice will come swiftly.”
The deaths of Nichols and Lowe have refocused attention on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas reintroduced after the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. Among other provisions, the Act would increase the use of body cameras, which Huntington Park police are not currently required to wear, and allow the prosecution of police officers who violate someone’s civil rights.
“Reforming policies and procedures are meaningless, however, without a drastic shift in police culture and attitudes,” Morial said.
The National Urban League developed “21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust” as a guideline not only for reforming policies and procedures, but for reimagining the relationship between police and the communities they serve.
“This is a fight that Los Angeles has been in for a long time,” Lawson said. “Though we have made some progress, progress has not been made fast enough. The time is now because lives are at risk.”