Ferguson Protesters Turn to UN for Human Rights Protections
'The goal is not only to achieve justice in Ferguson, but to unite governments around the world against the human rights violations that result from racial profiling and police violence.'
Michael Brown's family members and grassroots organizations from Ferguson are pressing the United Nations to intervene in response to what they say are U.S. police violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, they revealed Wednesday.
Organizers announced that, in the "absence of justice from the local, state, and federal government," they have submitted a brief to the United Nations, which has been made available to the public. Later this month, a Ferguson contingent including Michael Brown's mother, Leslie McSpadden, and representatives from grassroots organizations HandsUpUnited, Organization for Black Struggle, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to formally present the document to the global body.
"The goal is not only to achieve justice in Ferguson, but to unite governments around the world against the human rights violations that result from racial profiling and police violence," reads a statement on the website announcing the effort.
The report strongly condemns the Ferguson police department's "intentional, arbitrary killing of Michael Brown," whose body was left uncovered and decomposing in the street, "traumatizing" family members and residents and showing disrespect to black lives. When communities participated in subsequent protests, "law enforcement officials donned riot gear, tanks, armored vehicles and other military-style armaments, and placed the town under siege," write report authors Justin Hansford, Jessica Lee, Jeena Shah, and Meena Jagannath. They add that "militarized" police responses to the demonstrations "amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment directed towards protesters primarily representing racial minorities."
All of this takes place against the "backdrop of deep racial divisions in the community and a history of racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department," as well as a local and national pattern of racial harassment, arrests, and violence on the part of police, the report charges. Part and parcel of this, Officer Wilson, who shot Brown, has not been arrested, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has so far refused to launch a state investigation into the police treatment of protesters, "thereby reinforcing the climate of impunity around police abuses and sanctioning the disproportionate and excessive use of force on people exercising their right to protest," the report adds.
The document offers a spectrum of recommendations on the local and national level, including calls to: place greater limits on police violence, based on community input; hold police departments accountable for use of deadly force; and enact laws to end police brutality and racial profiling. "The United States must take steps to address the torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Michael Brown and other unarmed black and brown persons killed by law enforcement, as well as the torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of protesters in Ferguson exercising their right to peacefully assemble," the report urges.
Commentary and updates on the petition to the UN are being posted to Twitter: