Human Rights in the US: Excessive Use of Force by the Police and Racial Profiling

The second paragraph of the  Report on Human Rights in the USA, released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, deals with the excessive use of force by the police and racial profiling in the United States.

According to the estimates of the American non-governmental organizations, approximately one police officer in a hundred is implicated in criminal abuses. The sexual harassments, sexual abuses, rapes, including against the minors, are regularly committed by the police officers. There are cases in which the police misconduct led to a fatal outcome. Ultimately only about 30 per cent of the police officers are prosecuted for the committed acts. Numerous complaints of excessive use of force by the police officers are received from the participants of the protest movements opposing social inequality. 

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In January 2009, the American edition the Emergency Medicine Journal published the results of the survey conducted among the physicians working in the emergency departments. 315 physicians participated in the study and almost 98 per cent of respondents said that at least once during their professional career they had to attend victims of the police brutality.

According to the report of the non-governmental National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, only in 2010 there were registered more than 5,000 cases of excessive use of authority by the police officers. Roughly, one officer in a hundred is implicated in the criminal abuses. At the same time the percentage of holding police officers criminally liable for the offenses committed is significantly lower than in general in the country. Only about 30 per cent of the police officers are ultimately prosecuted for the crimes committed. Given that the mentioned non-governmental project uses only the public information sources, mainly the mass media, the cited figures may turn out to be lower than the actual ones.

Various offenses of a sexual nature (sexual harassments, sexual abuses, rapes etc) are regularly committed. According to the data available from the public sources, for example in 2010 618 police officers were implicated in such acts, at the same time in 180 cases the minors became victims of violence. The human rights defenders note that the level of sexual crimes committed by the police officers is significantly higher than the level of those committed by theUSApopulation in general.

According to the data of the non-governmental organization Amnesty International, during the period from 2001 to February 2012 at least 500 people in the USA died from the electric shock weapon used by the police while arresting or taking into custody.

Often the principle of using electric shockers and other “stun” weapons that can be used only in situations where the police officer are in a fatal danger is being violated. According to the report issued in 2008 by the Amnesty International (USA: Stun weapons in law enforcement), in 90 per cent of cases those who died from the electric shocker were unarmed. At the same time towards many of them this weapon was used more than once.

For example, in 2011 a 43year-old Allen Kephart died after the Californian police stopped him for a traffic violation. His autopsy showed that he had been struck with the electric shocker 16 times, and none of the three police officers were punished.

In November 2011 in North Carolina a 61-year-old hearing-impaired Roger Anthony died of the electric shocker after he had failed to hear the police officers’ order to stop while riding his bicycle.

In October 2012 the Oakland authorities agreed to pay US$ 1.7 million dollars as compensation to the family of Jerry Amaro who died a month after his arrest in 2000 on suspicion of buying drugs. During his detention the police officers broke five ribs of that Latin American and seriously damaged his left lung. For a long time the Oakland police thoroughly concealed what had happened, the medical examiner who made the autopsy informed the family of Jerry Amaro that he had supposedly died after a street fight with drug dealers. However, the investigation carried out by the FBI agents revealed that the young man had received death injuries just from the police officers.

The complaints of excessive use of force by the police officers are also received from the Occupy Wall Street movement’s participants who oppose a social inequality. In October 2011 in Oakland, state of California, the police officers fractured the head of a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, as a result of what he was not able to speak for some time. In November 2011 in Seattle the police used the tear gas against the crowd of demonstrators, including a 84-year-old activist Dorli Rainey, a priest and 19-year-old pregnant woman, while the police officers, who guarded the California State University, used it against the students who held a peaceful mass meeting on the territory of the University.

In January 2012 in Oakland 400 people were arrested on a charge of the vandalism and refusal to dismiss, though according to the detained persons they were not given the possibility to voluntarily obey the order of the authorities.

The camps of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s participants were forcibly eliminated in New York, Boston, Denver, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington and other  U.S.cities. As a result, numerous complaints of excessive use of force by the police officers were filed to the courts of theses cities.

The American police officers systematically resort to a racial profiling. Thus, for example in New York, where members of the racial minorities constitute approximately a half of the population, they become a subject of 80 per cent of all inspections made by the police officers. At the same time in 85 per cent of cases the Afro- and Hispanic Americans are subjected to a search or inspection of documents. If however the police stop the white-skin people, only 8 per cent of them are subjected to a search.

Amb. Konstantin DOLGOV is the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commissioner for Human Rights and Superiority of Law.

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Human Rights in the US: Manifestations of Racial, Ethnic and Religious Intolerance

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