[JURIST] Police in Ferguson, Missouri committed human rights abuses against peaceful protesters between August 14 and 22, Amnesty International USA (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text] Friday. The human rights concerns were witnessed first-hand by AI while in Ferguson during the protests. “What Amnesty International witnessed in Missouri on the ground this summer underscored that human rights abuses do not just happen across borders and oceans,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director of AI USA:
No matter where you live in the world, everyone is entitled to the same basic rights as a human being—and one of those rights is the freedom to peacefully protest. Standing on W. Florissant Avenue with my colleagues, i saw a police force, rated to the teeth, with military-grade weapons. I saw a crowd that included the elderly and young children fighting the effects of tear gas. there must be accountability and systematic change that follows this excessive force.
AI also made several recommendations to local, state and federal authorities regarding the use of legal force and policing of protests, and called for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the death of Michael Brown. Finally, the report called for the US Congress to pass the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act [text, PDF].
Earlier this month a federal judge in Missouri ruled [JURIST report] that a tactic employed by police to control protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, is unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction to stop the practice. Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer [USA Today report] in August. Many Ferguson residents believe the killing was racially motivated and have demonstrated in protest. Later that month a lawsuit was filed [JURIST report] against the city of Ferguson for unwarranted and unnecessary force by St. Louis County Police and Ferguson police against demonstrators. A week prior Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order authorizing the Missouri National Guard to provide assistance in the city of Ferguson following a period of civil unrest that prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency [JURIST reports] the Saturday before.