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N4T Investigators: Protest Push Fallout

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TUCSON (KVOA) - After months of pressure from the Tucson Police Officers Association (TPOA) calling for city leaders to censure one of their own, a new demand has been made by a local political activist group asking the Mayor and Council to dismiss the censure request. 

In this letter, Las Adelitas Arizona called TPOA’s request to censure City Councilwoman Lane Santa Cruz, "a politically motivated attack". 

In May, Santa Cruz was at a George Floyd-related protest in downtown Tucson, when she was caught on police body cam video putting her hand on an officer's baton. 

After our report, TPOA sent a letter to the Mayor and Council that called for city leaders to "take action" against Santa Cruz and that her action "meets the standard of aggravated assault... a felony." 

The TPOA President told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, city leaders never responded to thier letter. 

Now there's another letter, this time backing Santa Cruz's actions. 

Las Adelitas Arizona, the organization that sent the letter said:  “Las Adelitas Arizona invites our community to sign this letter of support for our Council Member Lane Santa Cruz and to demand accountability on the part of the Tucson Police Officers Association. We affirm the work of Council Member Santa Cruz and her willingness to ask questions, demand accountability and engage in our community. Council Member Santa Cruz was brave enough and committed enough to her constituents to stand in community, to risk her own safety to protect her constituents, to place her own body between police in riot gear and protestors. We believe these attacks on the part of the Tucson Police Officers Association towards Council Member Santa Cruz, professionally and personally, is an attempt to intimidate, misrepresent and deflect attention away from Council Member Santa Cruz’s legitimate concerns and actions. These attacks are also politically motivated, stemming from their support of the Trump agenda and employing the same bullying tactics he has popularized at the national level. We further believe the actions of the TPOA are in response to Council Member Santa Cruz’s requests and insistence upon accountability for the in-custody death of Carlos “Adrian” Ingram-Lopez and her vote against renewing the police union contract. Her vote, as a matter of record, is 100% within her rights and obligations as a duly elected member of the Tucson City Council. In fact, President John F. Kennedy, in his famous Profiles in Courage hails those who stand up in legislative bodies representing their conscience, as the true heroes of our democracy. We refuse to participate in or perpetuate the cycles of violence and intimidation with our silence. The tactics being employed by the TPOA against Council Member Santa Cruz have a long history of use against women, especially women of color, and even more particularly against women who are brave enough to stand up to the status quo and demand accountability and change. Join us in signing this petition and use your voice to condemn the TPOA’s manipulation tactics and to demonstrate our solidarity with Council Member Santa Cruz. We use our voices to ask the Mayor and Council to dismiss the unwarranted request that Council Member Santa Cruz’s actions are considered Aggravated Assault or that her freedom to vote her conscience be condemned.” 

The letter comes with a petition, condemning TPOA for what the group called a "politically-motivated attack" against the councilwoman supported. It is supported by the Pima County Democratic Party and more than 270 people have signed it so far. 

We reached out to TPOA for comment, its president said they have nothing to add at this time. We also reached out to the councilwoman's office. We haven't heard back.  

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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