As the nation marks the one-year anniversary on Sunday of unarmed teenager Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson, Amnesty International USA executive director Steven W. Hawkins released the following statement:
“Michael Brown’s death and similar tragic incidents around the nation highlight a disturbing pattern of use of lethal force and racially discriminatory conduct by law enforcement officers. One year later, there is still a pressing need for reform at the local, state and federal levels.
“Legislators in Missouri and around the country must bring laws concerning the use of lethal force in line with international standards, limited to instances in which it is necessary to protect life. Our own research found that the laws of every state in the country fail to meet this standard. In the wake of Brown’s killing and the militarized response to street protests, a Justice Department investigation found widespread misconduct and racial bias in the Ferguson police department.
“President Obama and the Department of Justice should support the creation of a national commission to conduct a nationwide review of police use of lethal force laws, policies, training and practice to bring them in line with international standards," said Hawkins. “The department should also revise its guidance to law enforcement officials to include a comprehensive ban on racial profiling by federal and state law enforcement agencies, and ensure the collection and publication of nationwide statistics on police shootings.
“Michael Brown’s death and the Ferguson protests kicked off a national conversation about race and policing. It’s clear on the one-year anniversary that the conversation is far from over.”