Global human rights organization, Amnesty International, has boots on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, and what it sees are violations of United Nations standards regarding basic human rights.
In an unprecedented move, AI, which typically monitors conditions for human well-being in areas known for unrest overseas — the Middle East, for example — arrived in the St. Louis County suburb last week in wake of the riots and shooting death of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, citing a Breibart report.
A 13-member team was on the ground Tuesday night as peaceful protesters and a small contingent of agitators/lawbreakers gathered near the area where the unarmed 18-year-old teenager was gunned down over a week ago.
MSNBC‘s Tamron Hall anchored a segment of the early show and spoke with Steven Hawkins, Amnesty Intl. Executive Director who spoke from what is being called “Ground Zero” of the Ferguson riots and staging areas for peaceful protesters over the police shooting.
We are here because there is clearly a human rights crisis. We are seeing the use of excessive force by police in a situation of very minimal need beyond the need for anything other than basic policing. The indiscriminate use of tear gas being lobbed into a crowd where there are children and elderly, ah, that’s a clear violation of human rights standards,” said Hawkins.
Shocking images from Ferguson are cropping up on the internet daily, the types of photos that are typically seen in the war on terrorism and the crisis in Ukraine, between its sovereign government and pro-Russian separatists, as refugees are caught in the crossfire.
In response to the rising tensions from the Ferguson shooting, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is traveling to the volatile Missouri town as part of the federal government’s investigation into possible civil rights violations. Amnesty’s Hawkins suggested that Holder holds a dialogue with officials and police agencies to develop a proper response to peaceful protesting as opposed to alleged excessive force media sources are reporting.
Amnesty International’s stance is that it is “clearly” seeing violations of human rights guidelines that are “quite shocking.” Moreover, as Hawkins says, the current police response is more provocative than settling, and while there is no imposed curfew, the actions by peace officers are indirectly giving protesters nowhere to go to exercise their First Amendment Rights in a peaceful manner.
Monday, Governor Nixon activated the National Guard to provide support to state police and local law enforcement. Ironically, the initial relief of the Ferguson Police Department from security, which was designed to remove the militarized response, actually increased the appearance with the installation of military troops.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Bob McCulloch, the veteran prosecutor charged with the Michael Brown shooting, said his office will begin presenting evidence to a secretive grand jury on Wednesday. However, the outcome could take weeks or longer due to the volume of evidence. Many suggest the only way to calm the ongoing violence and lawlessness is for officer Darren Wilson to be arrested and charged in the teen’s wrongful death. But with many moving parts to this process, legal experts think this is unlikely.
Stay tuned for more developments in this ongoing story.
[Image: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images via The Grio]