Black Man Dies Following His Arrest—Examine the Media Coverage

A black man from Washington, D.C., named Keenan Anderson resisted arrest while visiting Los Angeles. To subdue him, Los Angeles police officers tased him several times. He later died of cardiac arrest at a hospital. He was also a cousin of Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors.

NPR wrote:

According to the accompanying police statement, an LAPD officer, whose name has not yet been released, first encountered Anderson at 3:38 p.m. PT on Jan. 3, when Anderson flagged him down for help with a traffic collision. The officer found Anderson ‘running in the middle of the street and exhibiting erratic behavior.’… Others involved in the collision said Anderson had caused it, (Los Angeles Police Chief Michel) Moore said during a news conference Wednesday. Moore also said that Anderson had committed a felony hit-and-run and that another person involved in the collision said Anderson tried to steal a vehicle.

Some use of force experts say he posed no threat and the use of taser and amount of force “seemed excessive.” As usual, the media highlighted the suspect’s race, implying that he would have been treated differently had he not been black. 

A few days after Anderson’s death, I watched an interview on the Los Angeles Times channel conducted by an anchor/host Alex Cohen. She interviewed Democratic California Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, who is black. Bryan suggested the police mistreated Keenan Anderson, and that the alleged mistreatment was due to his race. He also talked about the problems in the black community, which he insisted required more government spending.  

I wrote Cohen immediately after the interview: 

Saw your interview with Assemblyman Bryan. Did you ask him why Keenan Anderson did not comply and that he would still be alive had he done so? Did you point out that at least one of the officers involved in trying to subdue him is black? The LAPD reflects the diversity of Los Angeles, with about the same (or slightly higher) percentage of sworn officers who are Hispanic, black, or Asian as is the population of the city.  

Yet the implication in your interview is that the LAPD is systemically racist. Why did you let your guest get away with implying that whatever happened to Anderson had to do with Anderson’s race? Even in the case of George Floyd, the lead prosecutor, who was black, never argued that Derek Chauvin was motivated by George Floyd’s race. Indeed in the prosecutor’s opening statement, he said neither the police, in general, nor the Minneapolis police, in general, were not on trial. He said this individual officer was on trial. And Chauvin was never charged with a hate crime. However you feel about Chauvin’s behavior there is no evidence Floyd’s race influenced the cop’s actions. 

Not one word about personal responsibility? Not one word about fatherlessness in the black community, which is, by far, the number one issue? Not one word about school choice? We spend more money on healthcare, welfare, education, and homelessness than ever before. Did you ask him why California is just 6.5 percent black, yet blacks are 40 percent of the California’s homeless? Did you ask him why black male teens are nine times more likely to commit murders than white teens, and that the murdered young black man is almost always killed by another young black man? By the way, the police kill more unarmed whites every year than unarmed blacks.

She responded: 

Though I’m the host, I don’t make the guest choices. That falls to our Executive Producer. I’ve actually suggested having you on quite a bit but those decisions are above my pay grade.

I replied:

You certainly have control over the questions you ask and whether you push back on your guest’s ‘blacks are victims of racism narrative’ that you accepted without challenge. It’s hard to understand why you didn’t ask the assemblyman, ‘Would this whole thing have turned out differently had Keenan Anderson simply complied?’

As of right now, no response to my response.

Correction: The second paragraph of an earlier version of this article misspelled Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore’s first name as “Michael.”


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