• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Joins March on Washington’s Call for Police Reform and Justice for Black Lives

On day of historical March, Amnesty launches action with NY County Public Defenders to demand investigation into NYPD’s arrest of Black Lives Matter organizer Derrick Ingram

Washington, D.C. — Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and its members will join the historic 2020 March on Washington to demand an end to the killings of Black people by the police and systemic reform to root out racism and radically change our approach to law enforcement. AIUSA actively supported the passage of the Justice in Policing Act by the House, which the Senate has refused to take up. With Black Lives Matter growing into the largest social justice movement in U.S. history, the March will channel the energy of thousands of activists to call on Congress to recommit to meaningful police reform.

On the day of the March, AIUSA is launching a new action, in partnership with New York County Public Defenders, to demand that New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. ensures that the investigation into the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) conduct during the attempted arrest of and charges brought against Derrick Ingram, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, is done in a prompt, impartial, independent, and transparent manner. Earlier this month, Derrick’s apartment was besieged, without warrant, by the NYPD, as they attempted an arrest due to alleged conduct during a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest. According to the New York Times, the raid involved helicopters and dozens of police, some of whom were wearing riot gear.  After writing to the District Attorney on August 27, Amnesty International USA was advised that his office had opened an investigation into Derrick Ingram’s case. AIUSA will be mobilizing its nationwide network of grassroots organizers in the coming weeks to support Derrick’s case and demand the right to protest be upheld. 

“The New York City Police Department and Commissioner Shea projected their message loud and clear. Our movement does not matter to them, dissent is met with intimidation, and the vilification of Black bodies and the terrorism of the Black spirit is a part of their playbook. The attempted siege of my home was a political message to sow fear within our movement. People all over America have organized, protested and strategized because we have reached a fever pitch. We are done witnessing and experiencing the continued brutality and violence against Black lives. Instead of protecting our right to peacefully protest, the police are retaliating against us,” said New York Black Lives Matter Organizer Derrick Ingram. “This wasn’t simply a case of excessive force: it was purposeful police abuse, a signal to all protesters and dissenters past and present. I’m grateful that AIUSA and New York County Defender Services are supporting me- ensuring  justice is upheld and to prevent this from happening again.” 

AIUSA interviewed Derrick for its August 2020 report The World is Watching, which documents 125 incidents of human rights abuses by police against protesters across the country over the course of one week of Black Lives Matter protests. In a 2015 report, Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States, AIUSA found that all 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, a fact that, upon review this year, remains true five years later. Amnesty International is calling for root and branch police reform at the federal, state and local levels in order to address systemic racism and the widespread misuse of force by law enforcement officials.

“Civil rights are human rights. But nearly 60 years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, our country has a long way to go until all of us can live in dignity, safety, and free from violence. AIUSA is horrified by the continued killings of Black people by the police and the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding respect and justice for Black lives,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for AIUSA’s End Gun Violence Campaign. “Derrick’s case is an extreme example of law enforcement abusing their power to silence those speaking out against injustices and further demonstrates the need to reform the police from the ground up. What happened to Derrick and other Black Lives Matter activists can never happen again.”