Council Member Lane Santa Cruz is being harassed by a powerful police officers’ union in an attempt to intimidate and silence her. The Pima County Democratic Party (PCDP) wholeheartedly condemns this type of harassment and stands firmly with Council Member Santa Cruz. At a time when support of police is at an all-time low in our nation due to high-profile cases of abuse and excessive force, the Tucson Police Officers Association (TPOA) is further widening the divide by bullying an elected official who is advocating for her constituents.
The attacks began when the council member reacted to the police department’s handling of the in-custody death of Carlos “Adrian” Ingram Lopez. When the council member saw the footage of Mr. Ingram Lopez’s death, she expressed shock and horror at the treatment of a man in distress, as did many in our community. It was clear that Mr. Ingram Lopez needed treatment from trained professionals rather than a police response. Tucson Police Department’s (TPD) Chief Chris Magnus agreed when he said that “officers violated numerous department rules in the incident and failed to handle the incident consistent with their training.”
The harassment of Council Member Santa Cruz has continued for several months. She appropriately questioned the lack of transparency in TPD, who withheld the information about the death for months. The council member voted to not approve a budget that failed to address her constituents’ concerns. She was present at a protest and attempted to de-escalate a confrontation between police and community members. Council Member Santa Cruz has acted as a duly-elected voice for her constituents. Asking questions and demanding accountability is, quite literally, her job.
We support the right of Tucsonans to lobby their representatives; however, we condemn these attacks. The tone and repetition of TPOA’s complaints about Council Member Santa Cruz demonstrate a desire to harm rather than to engage. TPOA scrubs comments supporting the council member from its Facebook page – the medium by which it delivers these attacks – and blocks many leaving supportive comments from commenting in the future. This indicates a campaign of harassment, and a failure to engage in good faith in the community at large.
PCDP recently passed a resolution that identifies concrete policy changes that would have saved Mr. Ingram Lopez’s life, and lays out a path for police transparency and accountability. Additionally, our platform is clear about a need for addressing issues of over-policing in communities of black, brown and indigenous people. For these reasons, attacks on Council Member Santa Cruz for upholding the principles for which she was elected are both dangerous and unacceptable.
We call on TPOA to suspend these tactics, and to engage in dialogue with the council member. We also call on other Democrats, including other elected officials, to offer Council Member Santa Cruz their support.