• Press Release

Media Briefing 11/5: Monitoring Protests, Potential Human Rights Violations

November 5, 2020

Good morning — This is the first of 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.


  • In New York City, police ‘kettled’ and arrested nearly 60 protesters in Manhattan, encircling the group and pushing protesters to the ground as they made arrests. Amnesty’s digital verification experts are analyzing this incident.
  • In Maricopa County, AZ, protesters, some of them armed, claimed the vote had been stolen from President Donald Trump as they gathered outside the counting center. There were reports of protesters threatening journalistsAmnesty’s digital verification experts are analyzing visual evidence from this incident.
  • In Portland, Oregon, the police chief declared a riot and Gov. Kate Brown called out the National Guard. There were reports of armed counter protesters.

Amnesty International is monitoring the situation across the country, digitally documenting and seeking to verify incidents, with protest experts available for first-hand documentation. In response to the issues seen over the past 24 hours, Amnesty emphasizes that:

  • Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to facilitate the right to protest–not quash it. Everyone has a right to carry their opinion on to the streets and peacefully protest. Law enforcement officials should facilitate, not restrict the right to peaceful assembly. Police need to de-escalate tensions and not meet protesters with  excessive force.
  • Using heavy duty riot gear to police largely peaceful demonstrations intimidates protesters exercising their right to peaceful assembly and escalates tensions between protesters and police. Where there is a small group within a larger protest committing acts of violence and property damage, communicating and working with protest organizers to help identify those who are committing violent acts and targeting those individuals for those acts of violence rather than collectively punishing people who are out and peacefully protesting is the way forward
  • Permissive open carry laws and armed groups pose a risk to public safety and the human rights of others and must be denounced explicitly and strongly by all government officials. There should be an immediate ban of firearms at and around polling and vote-counting locations to ensure the safety of workers there, and states should take emergency measures to temporarily suspend “open carry” laws that allow private individuals to carry loaded weapons in public to ensure public safety.
  • As we saw this summer, mobilizing state National Guard units to support local law enforcement is ineffective, and in some cases, can lead to further escalation of violence. Military units are generally ill-trained and ill-equipped to manage demonstrations, and their mobilization in such contexts should be avoided.
  • Processing additional people through local jails at the height of a pandemic places people’s lives unnecessarily at risk.

Available to connect for interviews:

Bob Goodfellow, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA

Brian Griffey, Regional Researcher/Advisor for North America, Amnesty International [Brian is also on the ground in Washington, D.C. monitoring protests]

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/

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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.