What do you do when you are committing criminal acts, inflicting harm on your fellow citizens, and you feel it might be embarrassing if you get caught? You remove the witnesses–and that’s exactly what Ferguson police did on Tuesday in their neverending struggle to reach a new low.
Ever since Michael Brown’s murder, a militarized police force has brutally suppressed dissent in every way possible. As media attention brought public scrutiny of the situation to a boiling point, protesters received a single night of reprieve as a new approach to handling the protests was promised. In an effort to show things were changing, St. Louis County Police Department was removed from Ferguson entirely.
However, not all change is good. Shortly after, Governor Jay Nixon imposed a curfew between midnight and 5 a.m. When civil rights groups began to point out that the curfew was unconstitutional, Nixon lifted the curfew–but police limited protesters’ First Amendment rights, instead. Demonstrators were told that they may not assemble anywhere–they were required to march. To firmly cement his ‘kinder, gentler’ approach to the protests, he called in the National Guard.
Most importantly, police did their best to ensure that the media, who they say are making the situation worse, were as far removed from the situation as possible.
The situation is so tense that Amnesty International sent observers to monitor the human rights abuses in the city of Ferguson–which may present an issue for police, given their liberal use of chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and other unnecessary crowd control techniques that would be considered, at minimum, uncivil in wartime. The use of tear gas on enemy combatants, for instance, is banned in wartime by the Geneva Convention.
“We criticize dictators for quelling dissent and silencing protesters with tactics like curfews, we’ll certainly speak out when it’s happening in our own backyard,” said Amnesty International USA’s executive director Steven W. Hawkins. “The people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting.”
On Sunday, after observing the situation, Amnesty released three recommendations:
A prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the shooting of Brown must take place. Brown’s family must be kept informed throughout the investigation. Under international law, police officers suspected of having committed unlawful acts must be held to account through effective investigation, and where warranted, prosecuted.
• All police departments involved in policing the ongoing protests in Ferguson in response to Brown’s death must act in accordance with international human rights standards. Any human rights abuses in connection with the policing of protests must be independently and impartially investigated, and those responsible held accountable.
• A thorough review of all trainings, policies, and procedures with regards to the use of force and the policing of protests should be undertaken.
On Monday and early Tuesday morning, Amnesty volunteers continued to be a problem for Ferguson police as they helped injured protesters and reported findings via Twitter.
Obviously, they had to go:
The murder of Michael Brown has brought to the forefront of public consciousness the schism between white people and black people with regard to crime. In nearby St. Louis, for example, a white burglary suspect hid in a stranger’s basement, broke an officer’s hand, and assaulted another. Not a single shot was fired.
Michael Brown, on the other hand, was gunned down at range with six bullets entering his body, including one “front to back,” with no evidence of a struggle. When Brown’s killer’s name was finally released nearly a week after the murder, police were sure to include a video that purportedly shows Brown “strong-arm robbing” a store.
However, the Ferguson Market’s attorney says that the owner nor any employees called police to report a robbery. In fact, a customer reported what he thought was a crime. They were shocked when police requested the footage.
We may never know the exact circumstances of the murder, as Ferguson is too cheap to install dash cameras or utilize body cameras for officers. We do know, however, that Ferguson has a history of abusing African-Americans. In 2009, for instance, Ferguson police brutalized and arrested the wrong suspect–then charged him for property damage because he got blood on the uniforms of his attackers.
Currently, the Ku Klux Klan and a group of people supporting the officer who ended Michael Brown’s young life are collecting blood money to reward the teenager’s killer. The Klan has also pledged to “protect white businesses” from “out of control” “blacks.”
Here’s a note to Ferguson police: If the KKK is on your side and you’re kicking human rights organizations and journalists out…you’re probably in the wrong.
Worse, you probably know it.
Now, watch this CNN anchor suggest turning fire hoses on the African Americans assembled to protest the racism and police brutality on their city: