FERGUSON, MO— In the aftermath of the announcement that the St. Louis County Grand Jury decided not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Amnesty International called for law enforcement to protect the rights of those who would peacefully protest the decision. Ahead of the decision, Governor Jay Nixon instituted a state of emergency for the state of Missouri, activating the National Guard to assist state and local police.
As a matter of organizational policy, Amnesty International does not comment on grand jury decisions. The organization has deployed a team of human rights observers to Ferguson to monitor any protests and law enforcement response.
Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins issued the following statement:
“Following today’s announcement, there cannot be a repeat of the abuses that occurred in the policing of protests in August and the current state of emergency must not be used to violate human rights by any level of law enforcement. Officers are duty-bound to facilitate the right to peaceful protest, not impede it.
“The events in Ferguson touched off a long-overdue and much-needed conversation about race and policing that must continue long after today. The community must be reassured about what measures will be taken to prevent unnecessary or excessive force from being used in the future, not only in Ferguson but throughout the United States. The actions of law enforcement in the next few days will be absolutely critical to instilling trust within the community. Amnesty International and, indeed, the world, will be watching.”
Amnesty International recently released a report on the shooting of Michael Brown and the initial protests following his death, On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson. The report detailed observations by Amnesty staff on the ground and outlined, among other issues, the organization’s deep concerns regarding Missouri’s state statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.046, that broadly authorizes the use of lethal force and is not in line with international standards, as it goes well beyond the doctrine that lethal force only be used to protect life.
Amnesty International is also reiterating its calls to the Department of Justice to abide by its legislatively mandated obligation to collect and publish nationwide statistics on police shootings and to implement a review of police tactics nationwide, including the use of both excessive force and lethal force, the militarization of police and the United States’ adherence to its human rights obligations in policing protests.
To read On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson, go to: http://amnestyusa.org/OnTheStreetsOfAmerica
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