Thursday, April 25, 2019

Abstract

Excerpted from: Andrea J. Ritchie and Joey L. Mogul, In the Shadows of the War on Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States, 1 DePaul Journal for Social Justice 175 (Spring 2008) (256 Footnotes) (Full Document)

 

AndreaJRitchieSince the advent of the first state-sponsored police forces in the United States - slave patrols - racialized policing has been a feature of the American landscape. Indeed, racial profiling and police brutality have their roots in enforcement of Slave Codes, and later Black Codes and Jim Crow segregation laws. We Charge Genocide, a petition submitted to the United Nations (UN) by the Civil Rights Congress in 1951, documented thousands of incidents of police violence against African Americans alone. Police brutality against Native Americans was also a constant of colonial culture in the United States. Official studies, as well as those of domestic and international civil and human rights organizations, have consistently found that people and communities of color are disproportionately subjected to human rights violations at the hands of law enforcement officers, ranging from pervasive verbal abuse and harassment, racial profiling, routine stops and frisks based solely on race or gender to excessive force, unjustified shootings and torture. Since the advent of the first state-sponsored police forces in the United States - slave patrols - racialized policing has been a feature of the American landscape. Indeed, racial profiling and police brutality have their roots in enforcement of Slave Codes, and later Black Codes and Jim Crow segregation laws. We Charge Genocide, a petition submitted to the United Nations (UN) by the Civil Rights Congress in 1951, documented thousands of incidents of police violence against African Americans alone. Police brutality against Native Americans was also a constant of colonial culture in the United States. Official studies, as well as those of domestic and international civil and human rights organizations, have consistently found that people and communities of color are disproportionately subjected to human rights violations at the hands of law enforcement officers, ranging from pervasive verbal abuse and harassment, racial profiling, routine stops and frisks based solely on race or gender to excessive force, unjustified shootings and torture. JoeyLMogul


Increased national and international attention was brought to bear on the issue of police brutality, its widespread nature, and its disproportionate impact on people of color in the United States in the 1990s following the release of a videotape documenting the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police. Over the course of the ensuing decade, U.S. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented widespread abuses by law enforcement agents across the country. Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism has stated that '[t]he use of excessive force by police against African Americans, Asian Americans, Arabs and Indians has been cited as one of the most pressing human rights problems facing the United States.' In 2000, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission [hereinafter Commission], an independent, bipartisan agency established by Congress in 1957, reviewed the findings of its 1981 report Who is Guarding the Guardians: A Report on Police Practices, and concluded that “[m]any of its findings and recommendations still ring true today,” noting that “[r]eports of alleged police brutality, harassment, and misconduct continue to spread throughout the country. People of color, women, and the poor are groups of Americans that seem to bear the brunt of the abuse...” 


Since this Committee's 2001 review of the United States, during which it expressed concern regarding incidents of police brutality and deaths in custody at the hands of U.S. law enforcement officers, there have been dramatic increases in law enforcement powers in the name of waging the “war on terror” in the wake of September 11, 2001. Consequently, both public discussion and accountability with respect to the use of excessive force against people of color and racial profiling have eroded significantly. Systemic abuse of people of color by law enforcement officers has not only continued since 2001 but has worsened in both practice and severity. According to a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), “the degree to which police brutality occurs...is the worst I've seen in 50 years.” 


Moreover, racial profiling by law enforcement officials and racially disproportionate concentration of law enforcement efforts continues to afflict African American, Latino/a and Native American communities in the United States. Post 9/11 has escalated this profiling and concentration with respect to Arab, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Muslim men and women. As recognized by the Declaration of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance, such racially discriminatory conduct, policies, and practices on the part of law enforcement agencies substantially contribute to persistent racial disparities in the criminal justice system and in the incarcerated population. As law enforcement officers typically represent the initial point of contact with the criminal justice system, racially discriminatory stops, searches and arrests, particularly in the context of the “war on drugs” and 'quality of life' strategies, fuel racial disparities in incarceration rates in the United States. 


This report addresses the U.S. government's failure to comply with its obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Convention) to prevent and punish acts of excessive force, rape, sexual abuse and racial profiling committed by law enforcement officers against people of color. While the U.S. government references various law enforcement training programs in its report, it is clear that that these are ineffective in addressing and deterring violations of the Convention by law enforcement officers. This report will also examine the failure of existing legislative and judicial remedies cited by the United States as evidence of its compliance with the Convention to afford victims of racially discriminatory law enforcement practices vindication of their human rights, financial compensation or systemic change. It concludes by offering concrete recommendations to bring the United States into compliance with the Convention.

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It should be noted that all of the signatories to this submission strongly believe in the importance of adherence to the CERD and share strong concerns about the Unites States' failure to comply fully with its international human rights obligations. The issues raised in this report constitute a compilation of the concerns of the various signatories, each of whom has a unique mandate and expertise. However, its contents do not necessarily reflect the precise position of each of these organizations. Finally, it is important to note that the issues identified herein are not exhaustive.

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