Police officers in the United States are feeling the heat as the U.N. call for a stop to excessive force. The U.N. racism watchdog petitioned for the United States to stop its use of excessive force by police officers on Friday. After the fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Missouri sparked riots, and triggered race debates, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, or (CERD), decided to intervene.
“The recent excessive use of force administered by law enforcement officers against ethnic and racial minorities continues to be an issue of our attention. Particularly in regards to the recent shooting in Ferguson,” said Noureddine Amir, the vice chairman from CERD. “Minorities, in particular it seems, African-Americans have been victims of partiality and imbalance,” he continued. “Racial bias and discrimination endure, and are still a serious problem across various states. What took place in the town of Ferguson is not one isolated incident, and the deficiency to properly train officials of the rules and laws of excessive force must be regulated. “
The heat was brought on Aug. 13th from the U.N. members of 18 panelists and experts, which was felt by senior advisory of U.S. delegation in regards to police conduct. What was labeled as “persistent and uninhibited racial discrimination toward minority groups,” was touched upon in detail by the committee.
There were Police reports in Brown’s case that state it was he who first struggled with the officer, prompting him to be shot. Other eye witnesses say that Brown was holding his hands up, about to surrender before he was shot in his head and his chest. Another issue brought on Friday by the U.N. group, was the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Law. The law is in effect across 22 states, and was a fixture in the Trayvon Martin case. Stand Your Ground, is said to remove a person’s duty, or need to retreat from the option of self-defense. However, the definition of self-defense has recently been called in for review. Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old who was shot to death in 2012 during an argument about loud music, had the support of his father Ron Davis at the Geneva Convention. Mother of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton, was also there.
Wrapping up their meeting on August 13th, CERD called for Stand Your Ground to be further reviewed, and to “pull back the immunity one sustains by declaring it, to enforce the strict need for interpretations of necessity, whenever the use of deadly force can be done regarding self-defense.”
David A. Klinger, who is a former police officer as well as a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Richard Rosenfeld, also a professor of criminology at the same university, conducted a study in 2012. They examined over 230 instances in the span of 10 years, where St. Louis police officers discharged their weapons. They came to find that the majority of officers were able to hit what they shot at, half of the time in the 230 incidents, and about one-sixth of all the suspects died. Out of 360 suspects who could be identified by race, some of whom ran before they were visible, nearly 90 percent were said to be African-American. Perhaps, even more interesting in the study, was the officers’ race who fired their guns. Almost two-thirds were Caucasian, and about one-third were black, which is similar to the racial percentage of the whole St. Louis Police Department.
By Theodore Borders