TheHill reports police in the U.S. committed 125 human rights violations in response to George Floyd protests, according to a new report from Amnesty International.
In the report published Tuesday, Amnesty alleges the violations occurred in 40 states during demonstrations following the May 25 police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.
In examining the police response to protests between May 26 and June 5, Amnesty found that law enforcement agencies violated protesters’ rights to peaceful assembly and association through intimidation involving the use of militarized equipment; excessive force including the use of batons, kinetic impact projectiles, and tear gas and pepper spray; and the targeting of activists, journalists, legal observers and street medics.
Among the alleged human rights violations are incidents such as the use of pepper balls and smoke canisters to clear protesters from Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., ahead of a June 1 photo opportunity for President Trump, and the deployment of tear gas by Philadelphia police on protesters who were trapped on Interstate 676.
“In some instances, the excessive use of force that causes severe pain or suffering may constitute torture or other ill-treatment, in violation of international law,” the human rights organization said.
Amnesty urged Congress to pass the Protecting our Protesters Act of 2020 — a bill introduced in June by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that would allow the prosecution of officers who willfully kill or injure protesters through the use of force — and eliminate the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies. The Senate rejected a proposal last month that would have ended the federal transfer program.
Amnesty also recommended the Justice Department develop national guidelines on use of tear gas and “less lethal” kinetic impact projectiles to ensure compliance with international standards, including restricting their use to situations of last resort.
In Tuesday’s report, the organization used witness and media video, social media posts, and interviews to expand on an interactive map of the incidents it released in June, according to Amnesty International USA Deputy Director of Research Justin Mazzola.
“Little has changed in how police respond to protests against police violence in the 6 years since Ferguson,” he said, referring to the police response to protests following the killing of Michael Brown in Missouri. “Just as we saw a militarized response and the deployment of excessive amounts of chemical irritants, the indiscriminate and unnecessary use of kinetic impact projectiles and physical force against protesters in Ferguson, we have seen those same tactics used against protesters on a national scale.”
The report found that police response to the Floyd protests was “ultimately a symptom of the very issue that started these protests: unaccountable police violence.”
The organization said U.S. law enforcement policies on lethal force violate United Nations conventions granting the right to life, security of the person, freedom from discrimination and equal protection of the law.