Police in U.S. failing to protect protesters from violence, as volatile elections near

1,007FollowersFollow

Law enforcement agencies across the United States are failing to facilitate people’s fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protect protests and counter-protests from violent disruption by armed groups among others, Amnesty International said on Friday in a new report, Losing the Peace: US Police Failures to Protect Protesters from Violence

Since the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, there have been thousands of peaceful anti-racism and political protests and counter-protests across the United States. Yet in nearly 200 incidents where violence occurred between participants in conflicting protests, Amnesty International found that US police forces frequently failed to take preventive measures to avoid the disruption of peaceful assemblies and failed to protect protesters from violent attacks when they did occur.

“Amidst unprecedented rises in political volatility and violence, US government and law enforcement authorities at all levels must meticulously protect people’s human rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “In the context of hotly contested elections and a nationwide civil rights movement, no one should fear for their lives when they try to cast a vote or have their voices heard at peaceful assemblies.” 

From May to September 2020, Amnesty International has documented and verified violent confrontations between protests and counter-protests in approximately 75% of all US states, and in about half of all US states it confirmed cases of police forces failing to keep assemblies peaceful and to protect participants from violent confrontations with counter-protesters. In particular, law enforcement agencies often neglected to:

  • Deploy appropriately trained police in adequate numbers to address potential violence between protesters and counter-protesters;
  • Separate protests and counter-protests, and de-escalate tensions, when necessary to avoid violent confrontations;
  • Prohibit and prevent threats of violence by armed groups and individuals at peaceful assemblies.
  • Halt acts of violence by intervening in disputes between protesters and counter-protesters; and
  • Differentiate between violent and nonviolent actors in law enforcement responses to violent incidents, including by avoiding the dispersal of assemblies when they remained otherwise generally peaceful.

“As President Trump calls on his supporters to ‘go to’ and ‘watch’ the polling stations, and white supremacist armed groups to ‘stand by’ during the elections, law enforcement officials should be on high alert to prevent political violence in this explosive moment,” said Brian Griffey, regional researcher and advisor for North America at Amnesty International. “Government authorities and the police forces they direct must adopt new policies, strategies, and tactics to facilitate and protect peaceful protests, and prevent their disruption by armed groups or other violent actors.”

Among the incidents documented by Amnesty International, over a dozen protests and counter-protests erupted in violence with police either mostly or entirely absent from the scene. A frequent catalyst for violent confrontations between protesters and counter-protesters was the presence of vigilante armed groups. The Trump administration’s rhetoric, policies, and practices have appeared to encourage the prevalence of armed groups unlawfully assaulting protesters and counter-protesters around the country.

In one example, an anti-racism protest organizer, Tony Crawford, told Amnesty International that “people could have gotten killed” during a violent confrontation his community had with armed counter-protesters at demonstration calling for the removal of a Confederate civil war statue in Weatherford, Texas in July.

In a series of text messages to the Weatherford police chief, reviewed by Amnesty International, Crawford wrote: “The patriots [armed group members] are surrounding us to force confrontation. We are surrounded by guns and people talking about shooting us loudly… Where are the police, Chief? This is ridiculous. We are being abused. Where are y’all… Y’all abandoned us Chief. You abandoned us. You let us get dragged and attacked while you did nothing.”

US government and law enforcement authorities at all levels must reform their police forces’ policies and practices to better facilitate freedom of peaceful assembly and protect protesters from widespread threats of preventable violence. In the marked absence of federal protection, local-level governments should safeguard protests from violence by issuing temporary executive orders to restrict the presence of weapons in public properties, parks, polling stations, and peaceful assemblies; and by instructing their law enforcement agencies to prevent armed individuals and armed groups from disrupting peaceful protests and civic activities during the elections period.

Police forces at city, county, state and federal levels should all immediately reform their conduct and implement specialized trainings on the human rights-compliant facilitation and protection of freedom of peaceful assembly, in line with their obligations under the US Constitution and good practices in policing of assemblies.

On August 4, Amnesty International published the report The World is Watching: Mass Violations by US police of Black Lives Matter protesters’ rights.

On October 6, the organization called upon United States governors to issue executive orders prohibiting non-state actors from possessing firearms at or near polling places during the 2020 general elections. Six states already prohibit guns at polling places: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

On October 20, Amnesty International also issued a joint letter with Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, calling on US municipal governments to adopt temporary special measures to prevent armed individuals or groups from intimidating or threatening protesters or voters during and following the elections.

Today News Africa
Today News Africahttps://todaynewsafrica.com
TODAY NEWS AFRICA is registered and headquartered in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America. Our publication is widely read, respected and influential. By providing daily answers to questions our readers have about the people, the businesses and the continent of Africa, we are reaching a diverse and wide audience from around the world. Our readers, many of them world leaders, trust us because we are independent and truthful. Our advertisers understand the difference between news, views and ads. Contact us: contactus@todaynewsafrica.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Trending Now

U.S. calls for independent probe into massacres in Tigray region in Ethiopia

The United States government on Thursday called for an independent investigation following massacres in the Tigray region in Ethiopia.The United States said the investigation...

Trump campaign files appeal after Judge called legal claim in Pennsylvania “Frankenstein’s Monster” before dismissing it

President Donald Trump’s legal team on Sunday filed an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling that dismissed his campaign's effort to block the certification...

Biden announces foreign policy and national security team, including Blinken as Secretary of State, Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security and Kerry as envoy on climate

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced key members of his foreign policy and national security team, including Antony Blinken as Secretary of State;...

Angry South African President fully rejects US allegations against him and his Phala Phala wildlife farm over treatment of animals

In a statement on Saturday, the presidency in South Africa said allegations against President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Phala Phala wildlife farm over the...

IMF chief to G20 leaders: jointly build foundations for better 21st century global economy

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Sunday urged G20 leaders to jointly build the foundations for a better 21st century global amid...

Sex-bombing the continent: Africa’s most popular nude dancer, Zodwa Wabantu, deported from Zambia

Zodwa Wabantu, Africa's most popular nude dancer, has been deported from Zambia where she was due to perform.The government believed her lewd performance in...

President-elect Joe Biden is 78 years old today

President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden is 78 years old today. He was born on November 20, 1942., at St. Mary's Hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to...

WHO warns up to 5 million people could die without 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week

Up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active. At a time when many people are...

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden wish nation Happy Thanksgiving in moving CNN op-ed

“Like you, our family will hold on to our most important tradition: taking a moment to count the many reasons we have to be...

WHO urges African countries to ramp up readiness for COVID-19 vaccination drive

As the race to find a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is showing increasing promise, a new World Health Organization (WHO) analysis finds that Africa is...

Remembering soccer legend Diego Maradona

World soccer great Diego Maradona died on Wednesday from a heart attack, less than a month after his 60th birthday.He died at home...

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva heartbroken over passing of former World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Ms. Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday expressed deep sadness over the passing of Sir James David Wolfensohn,...

Trump announces full pardon for Michael Flynn

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced that he had granted full pardon to the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn."It is my Great Honor...

Biden delivers inspiring thanksgiving message to the nation, urges Americans to come together, defeat COVID-19 and dream again

U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday delivered an inspiring thanksgiving message to the nation, urged Americans to come together, defeat COVID-19 and...

WHO warns up to 5 million people could die without 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week

Up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active. At a time when many people are home bound due to COVID-19, new WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior, launched on Thursday, emphasize that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts.The new guidelines recommend at least 150...
error: Alert: Content is protected !!
Share
Tweet
WhatsApp
Pin
Share