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Good morning — This is the second in a series of morning updates from Amnesty International focused on protests and potential human rights violations occurring around and in response to the 2020 election. See down below for a list of Amnesty experts available for interviews.   

HUMAN RIGHTS SNAPSHOT  

  • There have been public threats of and incitement to violence, including from police and public officials, posing risks to public safety and human rights 
  • Last night, former Georgia House Representative Vernon Jones threatened: “We’re starting now to see the white in their eyes and we’re getting ready to start shooting.” 
  • Colorado police officer was placed on leave after threatening Biden voters on Facebook 
  • Philadelphia Police took an allegedly armed man into custody, after they say he drove up from Virginia to “attack the Convention Center,” where the vote counting is underway. 
  • There have been protests in several cities and states, including Portland, Oregon, New York City, New York and in Arizona.  

Amnesty International is monitoring the situation across the country, digitally documenting and seeking to verify incidents, with protest experts on the ground for first-hand documentation as well. The seemingly increasing amount of threats of and incitement to violence, as well as the potential for armed violence, is worrisome. Amnesty emphasizes that:  

  • The failure of public officials – particularly the President and his administration – to condemn white supremacy, racism and discrimination represents a grave threat to human rights and public safety.  
  • All government officials must condemn rhetoric that is intended to incite violence. Now is the time to defuse the situation to avoid intimidation and attacks by armed groups and individuals. 
  • Permissive open carry laws and armed groups pose a risk to public safety and the human rights of others. There should be emergency measures put in place to temporarily suspend open carry gun laws in public places until public safety can be assured.  
  • While everyone has the right to carry their opinion on to the streets and peacefully protest, that does not include the right to intimidate, harass, or threaten violence against others.  
  • Police must facilitate the right to peaceful protest, de-escalate tensions and not meet protesters with violence and excessive force.  By exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters, U.S. police are failing their obligations under international law. 

Available to connect for interviews:  

Roger-Mark DeSouza, Chief Movement Building Officer, Amnesty International USA 

Brian Griffey, Regional Researcher/Advisor for North America, Amnesty International

Read more: 

Amnesty’s Defend Freedom campaign: https://www.amnestyusa.org/issues/freedom/  

Losing the Peace: US Police Failures to Protect Protesters from Violence (October 23, 2020): https://www.amnestyusa.org/losing-the-peace/   

Pre-election advisory: Ban guns at and near polling stations (October 6, 2020): https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/pre-election-advisory-ban-guns-at-and-near-polling-places/  

 The World is Watching: Mass Violations by US police of Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Rights (August 4, 2020): https://www.amnestyusa.org/worldiswatching/  

For questions, email media@aiusa.org   

This is not meant as a comprehensive report of human rights concerns. Amnesty International is in the process of verifying and vetting these incidents further as well as monitoring other incidents on the ground.