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Sunday, Jul 25, 2021

Amnesty International: U.S. police must end militarized response to protests

Amnesty International: U.S. police must end militarized response to protests

Amnesty International issued a statement calling for an end to militarized policing in several U.S. cities and the use of "excessive force" against demonstrators protesting police brutality.

Amnesty International issued a statement:

Heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons ‘more appropriate for a battlefield’ used by police 

Federal government should set up commission to investigate policing crisis

‘Racism and white supremacy are fuelling these killings and the police response to the protests’ - Rachel Ward

Reacting to heavy-handed, militarised policing in response to protests in several US cities this weekend following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, Rachel Ward, National Director of Research at Amnesty International USA, said:

“In city after city, we are witnessing actions that could be considered unnecessary or excessive force.

“Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable. 

“US police across the country are failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters. 

“Police must engage in de-escalation, before the situation worsens.” 

A police officer who was sacked following footage showing him pinning George Floyd to the floor with his knee despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe, has -  after a delay of several days - now been arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder. 

Rachel Ward added:  

“Racism and white supremacy are fuelling these killings and the police response to the protests. 

“President Trump must end his violent and discriminatory rhetoric and policies, and the US government - at all levels - must ensure the right to protest as guaranteed by international law.”

Heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons 

Police use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons and equipment to patrol largely peaceful demonstrations may intimidate protesters who are practising their right to peaceful assembly. These tactics can lead to an escalation in violence. 

Rachel Ward said: 

“The police must de-militarise their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organisers to reduce tensions and prevent violence, or to stop it as soon as it breaks out, to protect the right to peaceful assembly.

“All unnecessary or excessive force must cease immediately, and all instances of potentially excessive or unnecessary force against protesters must be investigated. Any officers who broke the law must be held accountable.”

Urgent action needed to stop police killings 

Amnesty is urging the federal government and US cities and states to act swiftly and meaningfully to address the root cause of these protests and take immediate measures to stop unlawful killings of black people and others by police, including: 

  • Officers must be prosecuted;
  • All US states must pass laws to restrict the use of lethal force as a last resort to prevent an imminent threat to life;
  • Congress should pass the PEACE Act to create a federal standard and incentivise state reform; and
  • The federal government should set up a national commission to address all aspects of this crisis including killings by police, the right to protest and ending discrimination. 


Notes to editors:

Additional research and statements from Amnesty International USA on policing, the right to protest and developments in Minneapolis, can be found below:

End of statement.

Why it matters: The human rights group said police across the country were "failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters."

"Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable."

— Amnesty International statement

The big picture: The National Guard mobilized and curfews were imposed in several states after clashes between police and demonstrators protesting the May 25 death of George Floyd and other black people who've died in police custody.

Zoom in: Authorities fired tear gas again Saturday during clashes with protesters in Minneapolis, where demonstrations entered a fifth day. 

  • In New York City, video showed police officers driving their cars into a group of protesters. Mayor New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "If those protesters had just gotten out of the way ... we would not be talking about this situation."
  • In Florida, there were reports of police using tear gas and pepper spray amid violence in cities including Miami and Tampa Bay.
  • Las Vegas police deployed tear gas after protesters vandalized patrol cars, looted a store and set off fireworks, NBC News notes. 
  • In Columbus, police used tear gas to disperse crowds. The local mayor said officers showed "great restraint" after protesters taunted them and threw objects, per ABC News.
  • In Seattle, tear gas was also deployed. The police said in a statementprotesters had thrown bottles at officers.
  • In Denver, police used tear gas to successfully force protesters back just after the 8pm curfew imposed in response to the unrest came into effect, The Denver Channel reports.

Of note: Georgetown Law professor Paul Butler, author of "Chokehold: Policing Black Men," noted the reactions of some police this week were different to the response to demonstrations against coronavirus restrictionsin Michigan last month.

  • "Unarmed people, many of whom are people of color, protest police brutality and are met with police brutality — flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets," he told Vox. "But when armed, mainly white protesters storm the Michigan state capitol, the police just let them be."

What they're saying: President Trump praised police for their conduct and slammed protesters, some of whom he described in a tweet as "THUGS."

  • "What we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice," Trump said Saturday.
  • NYPD Chief Terence Monahan tweeted, "We'll always welcome protestors who want to peacefully express their views. When violent individuals throw bottles, rocks, and cause serious injuries to our officers — we will make arrests."
  • Fraternal Order of Police national president Patrick Yoes said in a statement last Thursday in response to Floyd's death, "We know what happens in communities when police officers lose the respect and trust of the public they protect."
  • "Especially after a tragedy like we saw in Minneapolis, we need to do two things," he continued. "Take a hard look at our own actions and conduct, correct them where necessary, and to regain that trust by continuing to hold ourselves to the highest possible standard in a transparent way."

Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody is the latest reminder of the disparities between black and white communities in the U.S. and comes as African Americans grapple with higher death rates from the coronavirus and higher unemployment from trying to stem its spread.

This is a time to unite the people, to containment their eager, and to relax the situation with solutions: cash, free the millions of non violence people from U.S. jail, establish nationwide free health care and minimum income, and start restore peace among all the citizens of USA.

Black Past List:

Race Riots, 1900-1960
Robert Charles Riot (New Orleans), 1900
New York City Race Riot, 1900
Atlanta Race Riot, 1906
Springfield, Illinois Race Riot, 1908
East St. Louis Race Riot, 1917
Chester, Pennsylvania Race Riot, 1917
Houston Mutiny and Race Riot, 1917
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Race Riot, 1918
Charleston (South Carolina) Riot, 1919
Washington, D.C. Riot, 1919
Chicago Race Riot, 1919
Knoxville Race Riot, 1919
Elaine, Arkansas Riot, 1919
Tulsa Race Riot, 1921
Rosewood Massacre, 1923
Harlem Race Riot, 1935
Beaumont Race Riot, 1943
Detroit Race Riot, 1943
Columbia Race Riot, 1946

Urban Uprisings, 1960-2000
Cambridge, Maryland Riot, 1963
The Harlem Race Riot, 1964
Rochester Rebellion, 1964
Jersey City Uprising, 1964
Paterson, New Jersey Uprising, 1964
Elizabeth, New Jersey Uprising, 1964
Chicago (Dixmoor) Riots, 1964
Philadelphia Race Riot, 1964
Watts Rebellion (Los Angeles), 1965
Cleveland’s Hough Riots, 1966
Chicago, Illinois Uprising, 1966
The Dayton, Ohio Uprising, 1966
Hunter’s Point, San Francisco Uprising, 1966
The Nashville Race Riot, 1967
Newark Race Riot, 1967
Plainfield, New Jersey Riot, 1967
Detroit Race Riot, 1967
Flint, Michigan Riot, 1967
Tuscon Race Riot, 1967
Grand Rapids, Michigan Uprising, 1967
The King Assassination Riots, 1968
Hartford, Connecticut Riot, 1969
Asbury Park Race Riot, 1970
Camden, New Jersey Riots, 1969 and 1971
Miami (Liberty City) Riot, 1980
Crown Heights (Brooklyn) New York Riot, 1991
Rodney King Riot, 1992
West Las Vegas Riot, 1992
St. Petersburg, Florida Riot, 1996

College Campus Violence
University of Georgia Desegregation Riot, 1961
Ole Miss Riot, 1962
Houston (Texas Southern University) Riot, 1967
Orangeburg Massacre, 1968
Jackson State Killings, 1970

21st Century Racial Violence
Cincinnati Riot, 2001
Oscar Grant Oakland Protests, 2009-2011
Ferguson Riot and Ferguson Unrest, 2014-2015
Baltimore Protests and Riots, 2015
Charleston Church Massacre, 2015
Milwaukee Riot, 2016
Charlotte Riot, 2016
Jackson State Killings, 1970


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