Michael Brown’s Parents Testify:

UN Report Issued on U.S. “Excessive Use of Force and Police Brutality”

December 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On November 28, the United Nations Committee on Torture released a 16-page report on the United States, its first such review since 2006. A section on “Excessive use of force and police brutality” expresses concern about the militarization of U.S. police departments and "excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups."

This report came out only a few days after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered 18-year-old Mike Brown in August; and only a few weeks after the parents of Michael Brown, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., traveled to Geneva to appear before the committee. Their testimony was based on a 13-page report titled: “Written Statement on the Police Shooting of Michael Brown and Ensuing Police Violence Against Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.” The UN committee organized the parents’ trip, after saying that Brown's killing, and the force used by police officers during protests that followed, "represent violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment."

Shortly after this trip, Michael Brown Sr. said in a CNN interview that they had gone to the UN committee "trying to get the eye opener of attention to the situation going on in St. Louis and all over America" and that this case is about "What's going on in the United States and all over the world with the police, police brutality, no justice."

The new UN report says:

The Committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBTI individuals, racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities.... It also expresses its deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals. In this regard the Committee notes the alleged difficulties to hold police officers and their employers accountable for abuses....

When Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden testified before the UN committee, they said their goal was “not only to achieve justice in Ferguson, but to unite governments around the world against the human rights violations that result from racial profiling and police violence.”

The UN committee report is limited by what it can actually do (it only makes recommendations) and by its outlook, which is to reform the system as it exists. But it does point to real crimes of the U.S. around police brutality as well as around other human rights abuses including: juveniles in the criminal justice system, the use of the death penalty, sexual violence in the U.S. military, treatment of immigrants on the border, the U.S. record on military interrogations, maximum security prisons, solitary confinement, Guantanamo, deaths in custody, and use of the death penalty.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who oversees the UN Committee on Torture had also issued a statement on November 25, the day after the Ferguson grand jury announced its decision not to indict the cop who killed Mike Brown. Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein urged people to avoid violence in the wake of the grand jury decision, stated he is not in a position to comment on it, and then says:

Nevertheless, I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in U.S. prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row. It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems. I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.

Concerns about institutionalized discrimination in the US have repeatedly been raised, by respected national bodies and by UN bodies monitoring the implementation of international human rights treaties, ratified by the US. These include, this year alone, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Human Rights Committee. In addition, just two weeks ago, Michael Brown’s parents addressed the Committee against Torture which is currently reviewing the United States’ application of its obligations under the Convention against Torture. That committee will deliver its conclusions on Friday.


This new UN report comes at a time when the utter hypocrisy of the United States is being put in an international spotlight.

People are told, all over the world and in the U.S. itself, that the USA is “the greatest country in the world,” that it is the “leader of the free world,” and “the home of freedom and democracy.” But this LIE is now getting exposed for all to see, as thousands and thousands of people are taking to the streets in cities all over the U.S., protesting the fact that Black and brown people, especially the youth, are targeted and gunned down ALL THE TIME by the police, who are as a rule NEVER punished.

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