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UN concerns of U.S. police brutality

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 12-03-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Democracy, Race, Government,

The United Nations’ anti-torture panel reported concerns with United States domestic policy with a high incidence of police brutality and shooting—especially against unarmed “African-Americans” and Latinos. Other concerns were growing militarization of policing activities, racial profiling and harsh conditions in many prisons. The panel expressed those concerns during its investigation of U.S. compliance with 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

In perfect timing, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani proved the basis of the panels concerns with remarks that tried to justify the need for brutal domestic policy based on racial profiling.  He said on national television the police killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson was the exception that does not exemplify a larger national problem. He said people should be protesting the bigger problem that “93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks.” Giuliani and many other Americans ask, “What about the poor black child that is killed by the other black child? Why aren’t you protesting that?” They make this deceitfully indirect appeal to racism believing wrongly that it cancels charges of police brutality based on racial profiling.  

The American Declaration of Independence and United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognize “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. In the Constitution, the American people ceded limited authority to government to protect the general welfare. Only someone ignorant of those facts would ask flippantly why the people do not express the same concern for the killing of one child by another they do for police killings.

Americans have special concerns about police fatal shootings of civilians, because police officers kill in the name and authority of the people and not as individuals. To whom would the people protest over the killing of one person by another since they did not grant this power to the killer?

In addition, Giuliani defended police policy during his administration of stopping and frisking people based on skin color and “Latino” ethnicity to “save them from killing one another.”

City of New York’s stop-and-frisk policy under Giuliani was a mugging by police officers of five million people—mostly Black-race-labeled or Latino labeled—with nine out of ten eventually walking away without arrest or a ticket according to official findings. This police policy of treating people as a racial stereotype violated UDHR—Article 6 “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Article 7 All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.  Article 9  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. 

The same as other muggings, the frisking by police were armed assaults to advance goals of the mugger. They used force to invade the privacy of victims’ possessions and body with accompanying threat of physical harm to all that resisted. The only difference is that government does not classify those type police muggings as crimes. The victims do not have remedy for the indignity they endured, nor protection from repetition.

The 10-member UN panel recommended that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators.  The fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland, Ohio police officer meets the standard for investigation.

Deputy Chief Edward Tomba explained, this is an obviously tragic event where a young member of our community lost their life. We have got two officers that were out there protecting the public that just had to, you know, do something that nobody wants to do.  This mischaracterization of events is why the people need to conduct an independent investigation of all fatal police shootings. Police reports and video focuses attention on the three to sixty seconds preceding the fatal shooting and the potential threat to officers. However, this event and police responsibility began on the public member’s report to government authority about someone waving a gun in a public park.  

Police officers had the duty to conduct a proper investigation that included consideration the report could be false. It may involve a child that viewed the officers as trusted individuals he may approach with a toy. It may involve a non-hearing person unable to hear commands and who may make hand movements in communication. It may involve a mentally ill or intoxicated person that lacked the ability to respond immediately to police commands. Or, it may be someone with criminal intent who may surrender if given time to consider the choices.  

Nobody reported anyone in imminent danger. Therefore, responding police officers should have kept a safe distance from the suspect for safety and with backup in place to prevent a potentially dangerous person from escaping. They should have delayed closer contact until they had more information about the suspect, the nature of his weapon and his intentions  The two police officers rejected this cautious and responsible approach that provided the best potential for a fatality-free resolution. Instead, they moved close to the suspect and unnecessarily placed themselves in danger. They created the crisis situation leaving only the option of an immediate compliant response to their verbal commands by the person or a fatal shooting.