Police have committed 125 human rights violations during #BlackLivesMatter protests.
According to a report from Amnesty International that was released on Tuesday, in 40 states and the District of Columbia, police officers have made 125 human rights violations since Floyd was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Amnesty, a group organization that records and highlights the occurrence of injustices throughout the country, found that between May 26 and June 5 law enforcement agencies broke laws that protect protesters’ rights to peaceful assembly and association through intimidation involving the use of militarized equipment; pepper spray, excessive force, kinetic impact projectiles, tear gas; as well as targeting activists, journalists, legal observers, and street medics. In addition, unmarked agents kidnapped and arrested demonstrators.
“In some instances, the excessive use of force that causes severe pain or suffering may constitute torture or other ill-treatment, in violation of international law,” said the organization.
With that information, the organization is calling for Congress to pass the Protecting our Protestors Act of 2020. This bill was introduced back in June by Rep. #lhanOmar, which would make officers who intentionally kill or harm protestors through the use of force eligible for prosecution. It would also remove law enforcement agencies from receiving military equipment, The Hill reports. Amnesty also suggests that the Justice Department create a guideline for the use of tear gas and “less lethal” kinetic impact projectiles to make sure officers follow international standards. This would include limiting officers’ use of “less-lethal” kinetic impact projectiles in high-intensity, last-resort situations.
The organization used media, videos from social media, and witnesses to record the numerous amounts of incidents with the use of an interactive map the group made in June, according to Amnesty International USA Deputy Director of Research Justin Mazzola. “Little has changed in how police respond to protests against police violence in the 6 years since Ferguson,” he said, referring to police-involved shooting of #MichaelBrown in Ferguson, Missouri. “Just as we saw a militarized response and the deployment of excessive amounts of chemical irritants, the indiscriminate and unnecessary use of kinetic impact projectiles and physical force against protesters in Ferguson, we have seen those same tactics used against protesters on a national scale.”
The group’s studies found that the police response was “ultimately a symptom of the very issue that started these protests: unaccountable police violence.” The organization recommended that Congress pass the PEACE Act, which would prohibit the use of lethal force unless an officer was using lethal force in a life-threatening situation. “What our analysis shows is in comparison, especially with international law and standards, state statutes are far too permissive, and so it’s incredibly hard to hold law enforcement criminally liable when they use lethal force in an unjustified manner,” Mazzola said. “While other provisions of the bill need to be strengthened, if passed in the US Senate, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would bring the use of deadly force more into line with international human rights standards,” Amnesty International said in its statement.