Takar Smith, 45, and Oscar Sanchez, 35, were both shot and killed by Los Angeles police officers in the first few days of 2023. Anderson’s death has only added to the outcry over law enforcement’s use of excessive force and brutality toward Black and Latino men.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, who cofounded the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter with Patrisse Cullors, told BuzzFeed News on Saturday that she was hit heavily by the news.
“When we first heard about Keenan Anderson, we were stunned that there was a third police killing [in 2023], and then when Patrisse reached out and said, ‘that’s my cousin’, we were thrown completely off-kilter,” Abdullah said. “It made it more personal. It reminded us of how often this happens and how close to home it can hit.”
Anderson lived in Washington, DC, where he taught 10th grade English at Digital Pioneers Academy. He was visiting his family over winter break at the time of his death, according to a statement that academy founder Madea Ashton wrote on the school website.
“Our community is grieving,” Ashton said. “But we’re also angry. Angry that, once again, a known, loved, and respected member of our community is no longer with us. Angry that another talented, beautiful black soul is gone too soon.”
Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement on Wednesday, voicing her sympathies for the families and expressing her concerns over the videos. “The need for urgent change is clear,” Bass wrote. “We must reduce the use of force overall, and I have absolutely no tolerance for excessive force.”
Abdullah is calling for police Chief Michel Moore to step down from his position. “We need to struggle for justice in the name of Keenan Anderson,” Abdullah said.