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In a new study from the University of Chicago that manages to be both shocking and grimly unsurprising, legal researchers found police in 20 of America’s big cities fail to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing lethal force – a level of brutality across the country that fits the deadly definition of “state-sanctioned violence.” Looking at cities including Chicago, L.A., Houston, San Diego, Seattle and Indianapolis, the law clinic found not a single police department operating under state guidelines lthat are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws, from mandating lethal force be used only when facing an immediate threat to constraining police to use only proportionate force to requiring independent external investigations when things go wrong. Hence, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, etc etc ad nauseum. Of the 20 cities, Chicago and L.A. rank at the top for at least some compliance with human rights laws; at the bottom is Indianapolis, because thanks Mike Pence. In Europe, where chokeholds have been banned for years, the U.S. is seen as a racist, barbaric outlier in the realm of human rights when it comes to police brutality. Speaking with The Guardian, Agnès Callamard, the UN monitor on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said she was “horrified” seeing U.S. police in savage action: “We are watching people dying in public at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us.”
For anyone who hasn’t been hunkered in a cave for weeks, months, decades – Oscar Grant was killed in 2009 – the only real stunner is the list’s failure to include Columbus, Ohio, where for weeks rioting police have been covering their badges and so indisputably, indiscriminately gassing with chemical agents people exercising their Constitutional rights that the mayor and city council passed a ban on teargassing “peaceful protesters” – a move that enraged police union thugs. Still, Sunday night police were filmed violently shoving their bikes into crowds of peaceful protesters – “Weaponizing bikes: a recruiting tools for sadists” – and wildly gassing protesters. In a universally deemed “new level of abhorrent,” their victims included a young, double amputee who, struck and then maced, hit the ground, whereupon police ghouls seized his prosthetics. A grisly, surreal scene ensued: The kid (because he looks like a kid) crawled away from police as a few protesters tried to grab back the legs; when police sprayed them too, several more ganged up and eventually got hold of the legs; in the aftermath, filmed by a professor at Columbus College of Art & Design and reposted to Reddit, the young man twists on the ground in agony as a fellow-protester frantically screams, “Medic! Medic!” His prosthetics lie sprawled nearby. The spectacle horrified city officials to call for the de-militarization of police: “The presence of police should never look and feel to residents like we are at war…The word ‘peaceful’ has a definition when you look it up.” On Reddit, a disgusted u/meanmrbadger was more forthright about cops assaulting “an unarmed, no legged” resident: “Bravo, you heroes.”
Serving and protecting. Photo by The Dispatch
First published by Common Dreams.