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Police in Ferguson committed human rights abuses: Amnesty report

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - Police in Ferguson, Missouri, committed human rights abuses as they sought to quell mostly peaceful protests that erupted after an officer killed an unarmed black teenager, an international human rights organization said in a report released on Friday.

The Amnesty International report said law enforcement officers should be investigated by U.S. authorities for the abuses, which occurred during weeks of racially charged protests that erupted after white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9.

The use by law enforcement of rubber bullets, tear gas and heavy military equipment and restrictions placed on peaceful protesters all violated international standards, the group said.

Amnesty said it sent a delegation to Ferguson from Aug. 14-22 to monitor the situation.

When asked about the allegations, Brian Schellman, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department, which helped oversee law enforcement operations in Ferguson, said police “had one mission, and that was the preservation of life.”

The report also criticizes a Missouri law that the group said may be unconstitutional because it allows police to use deadly force against someone even if there is no imminent threat of harm.

The report calls on state lawmakers to make Missouri law comply with international standards making lethal force by police a last resort, said Rachel Ward, director of research at Amnesty International.

“Lethal force is only to be used to protect life when there is an immediate threat,” Ward said. “The Missouri statute goes far beyond that. It is of grave concern.”

Amnesty cited a Missouri statute that says a police officer may use deadly force “in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody” when that officer “reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested … has committed or attempted to commit a felony.”

A grand jury in St. Louis County is weighing whether or not Wilson should be charged in Brown’s death. Wilson has not spoken publicly about the incident.

The Justice Department is investigating Brown’s killing and the Ferguson Police Department.

Witnesses and law enforcement officials have said Brown and Wilson got into an altercation after Wilson told Brown to stop walking down the middle of a street. Wilson shot Brown six times. Some witnesses have said Brown had his hands up in surrender when the last shots were fired.

“Michael Brown was unarmed and thus unlikely to have presented a serious threat to the life of the police officer,” the report said.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.; Editing by Eric Beech)

Full Amnesty Report #staywoke #farfromover

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As anger erupted again on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a human rights team from Amnesty International worked on the ground in the US for the first time ever.

Confrontation flared up after an autopsy found that Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by an officer on 9 August, had suffered at six bullet wounds including one in the top of his head.

Eye-witnesses report seeing police, with no visible ID badges, hurling tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and threatening members of the press in another night of demonstrations.

Amnesty International, said it would be observing police and protester activity and gathering testimonies as well as training local activists “on methods of non-violent protest” in an “unprecedented” move by the campaigners.

Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, Steven W Hawkins said that the “people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting”.

Jasmine Heiss, one of the 13-strong team sent by Amnesty, told Buzzfeed that the limits placed on the organisation’s access to post-curfew areas was indicative of “the overall lack of transparency in this investigation”.

Complex Magazine said that police had opened fire into the crowds without warning three hours before the midnight curfew began, causing some children and members of the media to be hit with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Two black journalists from Complex also said that they had been racially profiled, being refused re-entry into the press area whereas white members of the press had been.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/michael-brown-shooting-amnesty-international-sends-team-within-us-for-first-time-as-national-guard-deployed-9675149.html

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Here’s the shotguns used tonight. Lots of restraint shown:

Summary of the night (August 18th, 2014):

There were many arrests throughout the night. Water bottles and other objects were thrown at police, and after gunshots rang out near the QuikTrip, police began firing smoke and gas indiscriminately. There have been reports of white anarchist agitators from out of town, provoking police.

Many protesters ran, terrified, coughing. Journalists were caught in the gas: one canister rolled right under a photographer, who collapsed from it. Fires and bricks were used by residents to try and keep back police.

Police began clearing out the street, ordering anyone who wasn’t credentialed media to leave or be faced with arrest. When one reporter (who is livestreaming the events and has a camera on him) explained he lost his credentials while being fired at and showed his PRESS patch instead, officer told him “this doesn’t mean shit” while ripping the journalist’s PRESS patch off of his vest and throwing it to the ground.

Police formed two lines and began moving forward. A handful of protesters got caught between the lines, trapped but repeatedly told to get out. Among them, WaPo reporter Wesley Lowery reports that the entire neighbourhood has barriers and many people are unable to get home.

SWAT teams have begun doing tactical sweeps and media were ordered away.

Amnesty International was also on the ground tonight and were kicked out by police. Currently, AI is highly critical of the US.

There are still a few people trapped, it appears, including a few reporters, who are tweeting that they’re being mercilessly gassed. After ordering the media away, the police seem to be gassing entire neighbourhoods indiscriminately:

And here’s an image of what it looks like when they fire gas:

Currently waiting for a presser from Captain Johnson, who was seen tonight attempting to keep peace with no helmet/mask/gear.

Nigeria

I think we (Tumblr) need a moment of silence for the 2000 people killed in Nigeria.

Take that moment to think what it would be like, to have your home attacked by mad men and to have to run, lose your family in your flight, only to find them, your friends and neighbours slaughtered when you return.

Take that moment of silence and after that we need to talk very LOUDLY about this.

This is not fiction, it is happening right now in El Salvador.

Innocent women in El Salvador are going to jail for 30 years for naturally miscarrying when they should be offered support.

Amnesty International has released a video about it. You can watch that here:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=873507422662131&pnref=story

And there is a petition to the El Salvadorian President. Here is a link to sign the petition:

https://campaigns.amnesty.org/actions/end-abortion-ban-el-salvador

Amnesty International: Hundreds of recommendations go unimplemented: Legal Strategy Coalition demands greater government commitment and accountability to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls

An alarming study released today shows that governments in Canada have repeatedly ignored expert recommendations to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Researchers with the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women reviewed 58 reports dealing with aspects of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, including government studies, reports by international human rights bodies, and published research of Indigenous women’s organizations. The reports cover a period of two decades. Shockingly, researchers found that only a few of more than 700 recommendations in these reports have ever been fully implemented.

“How many Indigenous women and girls would have been found or would still be alive if governments had acted on more of these recommendations?” asked Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “This is yet another piece of irrefutable evidence that governments in Canada have breached their fundamental moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all women, without discrimination.”

Continue Reading.

Amnesty International is facing criticism for refusing to tackle anti-Semitism in the UK, after a motion calling on the group to do so was voted down at its annual international conference.

The motion was narrowly defeated by 468 votes to 461 at Sunday's International AGM.

It had been tabled by Amnesty member Andrew Thorpe-Apps, who told Britain’s The Jewish Chronicle that while he was not Jewish himself, he had put forward the motion after being appalled at the rising discrimination and attacks against British Jews.

Just last week, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, a report revealed a shocking rise in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in Europe last year, with France and UK experiencing the greatest increase. 

Thorpe-Apps said the motion was the only one rejected during the entire conference.