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At The City Club with Mr. Lowery

On Friday, September 22nd, we went to the City Club for a program featuring Mr. Wesley Lowery, the "Washington Post" reporter whose work initiated the "The Fatal Force" data-gathering project regarding police shootings which won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016. He also wrote a book entitled "They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement" which describes the "Black Lives Matter" movement in a U.S. historical context which was for sale that day in the City Club Lobby.

In the course of his presentation, Mr. Lowery talked about how he was first assigned to report on the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson in August, 2014 and how the unusually large public outcry opened his eyes to the proposition that highly questionable shootings and other forms of possible police misconduct were a recurring issue in African-American/ethnic communities.


What was particularly disturbing was that there were very few statistics available so that the extent of this problem could not be evaluated on a national scale and thus "The Fatal Force" project was launched which used newspaper accounts to determine the number of police shootings a year which ended up totaling over twice the amount that the U.S. Department of Justice initially determined. "The Fatal Force" project figures also revealed that the number of African-Americans/people of color involved in these shootings was disproportionately larger than their percentage of the population.

According to Mr. Lowery, what really troubled him the most was that people had been trying to express their outrage for a long time but very few authorities and/or the media had been willing to listen to them and the result was that until relatively recently there had been no meaningful dialogue as to how to address this problem. Therefore, he saw his role as a journalist to listen to all of the people involved in such matters as police shootings and tell their stories.

As for ourselves, when we arrived at the City Club we didn't know much about Mr. Lowery but we soon learned that he was raised in the Cleveland area and attended "Shaker Heights High School". Therefore, it was only fitting that he be introduced by Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., the Superintendent of the Shaker Heights Schools. Moreover, Mr. Lowery let it be known that he was no stranger to the City Club; he had attended quite a few programs here when as a student and even helped to facilitate a couple of them. During the Q and A, a question was asked by a dignified but obviously quite progressive older man, himself a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, who recalled that when he was a spunky young guy he confronted Governor George Wallace when he spoke at the City Club so we all gave him a round of applause. 

We also got to meet Mr. Lowery's parents and younger brother and sat next to a very nice guy named John who embraced Mr. Lowery when he first walked in because, as it turned out, they attended Ohio University together.

Afterwards, we told Mr. Lowery that we worked for "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" and we were interested in knowing about confrontations that people who immigrated to the United States from the regions of Asia and the Middle East may have had with the police because most of Mr. Lowery's presentation seemed to center on African-Americans with some references to Hispanics. Mr. Lowery acknowledged that what we were asking was quite pertinent so we exchanged contact information and agreed to correspond on this matter.

Another important person who was there at the City Club that day who figured prominently in Mr. Lowery's life was Ms. Natalie Sekicky, his journalism teacher at Shaker Heights High School so we asked her if Mr. Lowery was a good student. Ms. Sekicky smiled and said that they used to go back and forth at times (as we interpreted this it meant that Mr. Lowery had a mind of his own and his own way of doing things) but it was a relationship that they both very much benefited from having.       


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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