Law enforcement officers committed 125 human rights violations against protesters, bystanders and journalists between May 26 and June 5, Amnesty International revealed in a report on Tuesday (Aug. 4).
The global human rights organization consulted with weapons and law enforcement experts, analyzed over 500 videos and photos shared on social media and interviewed police brutality victims as well as officers to reach their findings.
“The analysis is clear: When activists and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets in cities and towns across the USA to peacefully demand an end to systemic racism and police violence, they were overwhelmingly met with a militarized response and more police violence,” Amnesty International’s Arms and Military Operations Senior Crisis Advisor Brian Castner said. “The time for applying band-aids and making excuses for a few ‘bad apples’ has passed.”
The organization is now urging federal, state and local law enforcement to reform their policing practices after using tear gas, smoke, non-lethal bullets and percussion grenades against protesters.
“Using heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons and equipment to police largely peaceful demonstrations intimidates protesters exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” the report reads. “Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable rather than possible and may escalate tensions between protesters and police.
“As seen in many countries, inappropriate or excessive police interventions can actually lead to violence and disorder rather than reducing tensions. Indeed, police will have a propensity to use the weaponry they are deployed with and so should not be deployed with weapons that are inherently inappropriate for the operation they are conducting.”
Along with the report, Amnesty also created an interactive map to show where instances of police brutality during protests have occurred. As a result of their findings, the organization is calling on lawmakers to limit police officers’ use of lethal force and to “ensure that everyone under their jurisdiction can enjoy their human rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
“What’s needed now is systemic, root-and-branch reform of US policing that brings an end to the scourge of police use of excessive force and extrajudicial executions of Black people,” Castner added. “Communities should not live in fear of being harmed by the very officers that have sworn an oath to protect them. Officers responsible for excessive force and unlawful killings must always be held accountable.”
See the full report here.