Following reports indicating that two protestors were killed and one was injured during protests in Kenosha, WI, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) released the following statement from End Gun Violence Campaign Manager Ernest Coverson. The protests come after local police shot and severely injured Jacob Blake as he tried to get into his car.
“Once more, we are witnessing why it is crucial for the United States to protect the rights of protestors who are exercising their right to hold peaceful public assemblies and to end gun violence. Simply put, it is the duty of law enforcement officers to protect those who’ve gathered to protest. While Wisconsin is an open carry state, law enforcement officers should ensure that armed private individuals are not endangering public safety or targeting peaceful protestors.
“Law enforcement officers in Wisconsin and all over the U.S. have expressed concern over open carry laws in the past, as these policies escalate violence and endanger police and the public. The only requirement to openly carry a loaded firearm in Wisconsin is that the individual be 18 years old—no permit is needed. Two people are dead and one injured because an armed private individual—who did not even need a permit to carry his loaded gun—decided to target them. Open carry laws, especially where no permit is required to carry, endanger the public and should be repealed. The U.S. is failing to protect people’s right to live and to protest safely.
“With the Black Lives Matter movement growing into the largest social justice movement in the country’s history, it is more important than ever for law enforcement officers to dedicate themselves to ensuring that everyone can have their voices heard without losing their lives or being harmed.”
Last month, AIUSA released a report in an effort to ensure that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies comply with recommended best practices for policing protests.