In what could hardly be called a surprise, the UN Human Rights Council chastised the US over its epidemic of police violence, discrimination, needless killings, and general neglect, following through with recommendations made in its first review in 2010.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) takes place every four years to scrutinize the human and civil rights practices of each of the UN’s 193 member nations. Delegates from 117 countries took the opportunity to lambaste the US’ record of civil rights violations exacted by its brutal and racist police forces.
In an attempt to fend off the inevitable, James Cadogan, a senior counselor in the Department of Justice’s Human Rights Division, said the US must “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our civil rights laws live up to their promise,” listing several “tragic deaths” that sparked numerous demonstrations and wide-scale unrest across the country. However, he seemed to be blind to the fundamental basis for such outrage saying the US wishes to “identify and address potential policing issues before they become systemic problems,”, even asserting a fictitious good record for holding violators accountable. As Mary McLeod, acting legal adviser to the US Dept of State, put it, “We’re proud of the work we’ve done since our last UPR.” Most would disagree.
What the US representatives touted as improvements, actually do more to highlight the systemic issue they claim to be on the lookout for. Cadogan cited 400 instances in the past six years in which charges were brought against law enforcement officials, but this doesn’t figure in the disproportionately light punishment that often results from prosecution of police officers. Even his own preemptive statement, naming Michael Brown and Eric Garner as examples, speaks far more to police impunity than accountability — and is hardly reflective of the totality of incidents. Over 400 people have been killed by police in 2015 alone.
It’s a racially charged photo the Chicago Police Department didn’t want the public to see: two white cops posing with rifles as they stand over a black man lying on his belly with deer antlers on his head.
The camouflage-wearing Florida cops who made international news last month when they used an armored car to pull a man over for flipping them off were disciplined, including one Alachua County Sheriff’s Sergeant who was suspended without pay for a day.
Perhaps now they will acknowledge that citizens do that have the right to flip them off, even though we all can agree it is a rude gesture.
Even if they are dressed like Rambo to oversee an annual college football festival titled Orange and Blue Weekend.
Or perhaps they just need to “grow a thicker skin,” as the investigative report concluded, which was obtained by the Gainesville Sun last week.
Now the sergeant who initiated the traffic stop, Kevin Davis, will also have to write a new policy for the agency, which will outline the situations when the armored car, officially titled the Lenco Bearcat Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), will be allowed to make traffic stops. We hope he makes it clear that contempt-of-cop traffic stops are forbidden
Sgt. Kevin Davis was issued one day of suspension without pay by Sheriff Sadie Darnell herself, and Deputy Richard Howell was given a written reprimand.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced new curbs Tuesday on the government’s use of civil asset forfeiture laws, saying that federal authorities will only seize bank accounts when serious illegal transactions have been documented.
The new policy amplifies an announcement in October by the Internal Revenue Service, which said its agents would use seizure authorities primarily in cases when accounts owners are clearly using the banking system for crimes.
“With this new policy, the Department of Justice is taking action to ensure that we are allocating our resources to address the most serious offenses,” Holder said in a statement. “Appropriate use of asset forfeiture law allows the Justice Department to safeguard the integrity, security and stability of our nation’s financial system while protecting the civil liberties of all Americans.”
CAMDEN, N.J. — The Obama administration announced Monday it will ban federal transfers of certain types of military-style gear to local police departments, as the president seeks to respond to a spate of incidents that has frayed trust in communities across the country.
The banned items are tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, ammunition of .50-caliber or higher and some types of camouflage uniforms, according to a report released by a White House working group that made the recommendations. Other equipment, including tactical vehicles, explosives and riot equipment, will be transferred only if local police provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly, according to the report.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear sometimes gives people a feeling like they are an occupying force as opposed to a part of the community there to protect them,” Obama said during remarks in Camden, N.J. “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments.”
The nation’s largest police union denounced the president’s move, saying he has overstated the problem.
“The issue of militarization has been really kind of exaggerated almost to the point that I don’t recognize it at times,” said James Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police. “The vast majority of the equipment that civilian law enforcement gets from the military is administrative stuff or defensive in nature.”