Black Pa. lawmakers respond to ‘gruesome’ media coverage of shootings

State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown

State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown

Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus spoke out today about what they called “insensitive” media coverage of black men killed by police in cases across the country.

“Following a difficult and harrowing event, the last thing any surviving member of a family wants to see is their husband, father, or brother gruesomely depicted on the front of a newspaper,” said Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., speaking to a small group at the Greater Bibleway Temple in West Philadelphia.

She held up a copy of the front page of the New York Daily News, which splashed a picture of Alton Sterling’s body — gaping chest wounds and all — across its front pages this week.

“We need to show the best of ourselves,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Phila. “Choosing to show very disturbing images puts our community, which is already in trauma, further in trauma.”

Brown, Hughes, and a cohort of members of the PLBC called for greater police accountability when it comes to violent confrontations with black constituents, like the highly publicized deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul.

In light of the deaths of five officers in Dallas last night, Brown and the other black Pennsylvania lawmakers and community leaders present pivoted their conversation to call for peace and accountability generally.

“We all need to be busy about ways in which we bring an end to violence,” said Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, D-Phila. Among the measures discussed include greater restrictions on the sales of automatic weapons and calls for more training for officers to de-escalate confrontations.

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