Jackson, MS – The mayor of Jackson has issued an executive order prohibiting the city’s police force from the “dehumanizing” practice of releasing mugshots of individuals in cases of officer-involved shootings.
The doesn’t specify that the suspect needs to killed, or even shot This raises the issue that releasing the picture of a wanted suspect who exchanged gunfire with police would be against the order.
Instead, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba suggested that police “go the extra mile” to provide an image that “gives respect to those individuals who are no longer living,” by accessing photos through social media, or by consulting with the deceased person’s family members.
His reasoning for protecting the dignity of the suspect seemed to imply that every officer-involved shooting resulted in the suspect’s death.
Lumumba, who has proclaimed himself to be a “radical” and “proud member” of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), released the executive order on Feb. 16.
“Mugshots and sensationalized news narratives create lasting impressions that adversely impact communities and widen the historical divides between police and community,” the mayor said in the order. “A mug shot is just one snapshot in time, and cannot be presumed to represent the sum total of any individual’s existence.”
Lumumba asserted that the removal of the “visual dehumanization that occurs when mug shots are used” was necessary, and that the directive was intended to end the “injustice of this practice.”
“We do not want to … portray people in an image or in a light that is as negative as a mug shot,” the mayor explained, according to the Associated Press.
“We recognize the complexity of being part of a police force in a city with Jackson’s demographics,” Lumumba’s order read. “Communities of color have always had a complex relationship with law enforcement.”
He claimed that whenever an officer-involved shooting occurs, “something has gone wrong,” the Associate Press reported.
“We have not been successful in deescalating a circumstance,” Lumumba said. “The last image of any person should not be on the worst day of their life, or the worst image that we could possibly provide.”
His wording suggests a belief that officers are given a chance to deescalate before shooting, rather than a suspect suddenly opening fire on the police.
“We’re stepping out and initiating this policy because we want other municipalities in other states to follow suit and see this is how we treat people like human beings, no matter whatever the circumstances were, justified or not, in an officer-involved shooting,” Lumumba, a former defense attorney, told the Associated Press.
Lumumba’s father, Chokwe Lumumba Sr., was a leader of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) in the 1970s, and pushed for the creation of a sovereign, black-majority nation within the boundaries of the United States, The Daily Wire reported.
Lumumba Sr. also co-founded the MXGM black nationalist movement in 1990 – a group the mayor has said he is a “proud member” of, according to The Clarion Ledger.
“I’m not afraid of the term ‘radical,’” the mayor told The Clarion Ledger in a 2016 interview. “I’ll embrace the term radical.”
“In Mississippi, we’ve always been at the bottom,” Lumumba explained. “We have to decide that we’re going to rescue ourselves. That in places like Jackson, we won’t allow it to be havens of oppression which endangers all of us.”
“We’ve made the decision that we’re going to be the most radical city on the planet,” he continued. “We’re going to make certain that we change the whole scope of electoral politics.”
The order banning the release of mugshots in officer-involved shooting incidents was “effective immediately,” according to the mayor’s directive.