History Podcasts

This Day in History: 05/28/1961 - Appeal For Amnesty

This Day in History: 05/28/1961 - Appeal For Amnesty

In this This Day in History video, take a look at May 28, the day in 1957 when the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants moved out to California, the day in 1934 when the Dionne quintuplets were born, and the day in 1961 when Peter Benenson formed Amnesty International.


Over the years, human rights have moved from the fringes to centre stage in world affairs.

Amnesty has grown from seeking the release of political prisoners to upholding the whole spectrum of human rights. Our work protects and empowers people - from abolishing the death penalty to protecting sexual and reproductive rights, and from combatting discrimination to defending refugees and migrants’ rights. We speak out for anyone and everyone whose freedom and dignity are under threat.


On This Day In Mormon History

Nov 1, 1808 - John Taylor is born in Milnthorpe, England.

Nov 1, 1823 - Alvin Smith, Joseph Smith's older brother, comes into the house in great pain. He is taken sick and dies 18 days later after an "emetic" administered by a local doctor substituting for the family doctor lodges in his digestive tract. This complicates things for Joseph as he claimed he had been instructed by an angel to bring Alvin to the Hill Cumorah to receive the plates.

Nov 1, 1825 - Joseph Smith Jr. and his father Joseph Smith Sr. sign "Articles of Agreement" concerning the seeking of a lost Spanish silver mine near Josiah Stowall's property in Harmony Pennsylvania. Stowall had heard of Joseph Smith's ability to see hidden treasures and brought him 150 miles from Palmyra, New York to help locate the fabled treasure. No money was ever found and Joseph was later tried and convicted as a "disorderly person" for his "glass looking" activities with Stowall. However it was in Harmony that Joseph met Emma Hale, his future wife.

Nov 1, 1840 - Notice in "Times and Seasons:" ". . . It is requested that all those who have been endowed with a poetical genius, whose muse has not been altogether idle, will feel enough interest in a work of this kind, to immediately forward all choice, newly composed or revised hymns. In designating those who arc endowed with Poetical genius, we do not intend to exclude others we mean all who have good hymns that will cheer the heart of the righteous man, to send them as soon as practicable directed to Mrs. Emma Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois. POST PAID."

Nov 1, 1841 - Notice in "Times and Seasons:" "The brethren are hereby notified that our well-beloved brother, Hyrum Smith, patriarch of the church, has erected a comfortable office opposite his dwelling-house, where himself, together with his scribe and recorder, James Sloan, will attend regularly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, during the entire day, or upon any other day if urgent circumstances require it, to perform the duties of his high and holy calling. A copy of the blessings can be received immediately after being pronounced, so that the brethren who live at a distance can have it to take with them."

Nov 1, 1843 - This is the last known occasion in which Emma Smith performs the washing and anointing for women receiving the endowment ceremony in the Anointed Quorum.

Nov 1, 1845 - Brigham Young pays William Clayton "one hundred and fifty dollars to purchase instruments for the brass band."

Nov 1, 1850 - John Taylor advertises in the MILLENIAL STAR death-mask busts of Joseph and Hyrum Smith: "I procured casts taken from their faces immediately after their death. I had also the various drawings with me, which had been made while they were living."

Nov 1, 1853 - First issue of British Mission's JOURNAL OF DISCOURSES, most famous collection of Mormon sermons which had been published previously in DESERET NEWS. The introduction is preceded by a letter from the First Presidency endorsing the publication.

Nov 1, 1861 - Brigham Young's Office Journal records: "An Indian belonging to Wash-i-kiks band came to the President and begged for powder and Tobacco the President directed Some should be given him . "

Nov 1, 1877 - First Presidency Secretary L. John Nuttall records that John Taylor's birthday celebration was attended by "Prest. John Taylor, 6 wives, 17 sons, 8 daughters, 5 daughters-in-law, 3 sons-in-law, 7 grand sons and 6 grand daughters. Total 53."

Nov 1, 1885 - Apostle John Henry Smith notes in his journal, "This makes thirty-eight meetings I have attended in two weeks."

Nov 1, 1890 - Date for which U.S. President William Henry Harrison's amnesty declaration for LDS polygamists does not cover "unlawful cohabitation." According to Harrison's proclamation no Mormon polygamists will be prosecuted for illegal cohabitation committed before this date if they refrain from such cohabitation after this date.

Nov 1, 1891 - Apostle Marriner W. Merrill preaches at the Logan Tabernacle "that not only plural marriages had ceased in the Church but that Brethren should not live with their plural families hereafter, but observe strictly the law of the land in this matter." On the stand with him is Apostle Joseph F. Smith who later has children by his plural wives. This illustrates a difference between public statements and private beliefs by leaders of the Church concerning the extent of the President Woodruff's Manifesto.

Nov 1, 1901 - Financial report of the Church lists assets at $1,992,399.40, and liabilities at $1,110,607.58 for a surplus of $881,791.82.

Nov 1, 1918 - Joseph F. Smith dictates "thus saith the Lord" revelation concerning disbursement of tithing funds. This revelation is not presented to meeting of First Presidency and Quorum or Twelve until April 8, 1943. Text available but never published or canonized.

Nov 1, 1922 - Day after Heber J. Grant joins in public appeal for election of man as county sheriff, First Presidency issues statement that church feels "free to use its influence in the promotion of good legislation, honest administration of government and matters calculated to benefit the state and it's people."

Nov 1, 1975 - CHURCH NEWS article about Kathy Devine, LDS shotputter and Olympic aspirant who criticizes those who "think all girls should be out baking cookies somewhere."

Nov 1, 1977 - Spencer W Kimball dedicates Osmond Family Studio in Orem, Utah.

Nov 1, 1989 - Announcement that full-time female missionaries will be only guides for traditional tours of Temple Square, Salt Lake City.

Nov 1, 1993 - Richard A Searfoss, Mormon lieutenant-colonel, pilots COLUMBIA back to earth after fourteen days in orbit, longest space-shuttle flight to this date.


How can states stop gun violence?

Effectively implemented gun regulation and violence prevention projects can stop the carnage.

As a first step, states should recognize firearm violence as a threat to people’s human rights, in particular their rights to life, to physical integrity and security of person, and to health.

Gun regulation and gun licences

States can set up some basic systems to regulate how private individuals can own and use firearms and ammunition to prevent them from using firearms to abuse human rights. The UN has set up international guidelines that states can put in place to incorporate into national laws on firearms control.

These international standards recommend prohibiting any possession of firearms without a licence that states should register all firearms and that unlicenced possession should be treated as a criminal offence.

A firearms licence should be subject to certain criteria being met. For example, the applicant should undergo a comprehensive background check to identify any risk factors, such as prior criminal record – especially for violent behaviour in the home or community history of gender-based, sexual or domestic violence and history of problematic use of drugs/alcohol, emotional issues, mental health conditions and other circumstances which heighten the risks of the harm to self or others using firearms. Gun licences should be time-limited and training on how to use the weapon should be mandatory. The number and type of weapons that an individual can possess should also be strictly limited in line with the principles of necessity and credible justification.

Firearms and ammunition which represent an unacceptable level of risk to public safety, including those likely to cause excessive or unintended injury, such as fully automatic firearms, semi-automatic assault rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and semi-automatic submachine-guns, must be prohibited for use by private individuals.

To avoid fuelling the illicit trade in and possession of firearms, states must take proactive measures to make sure that all stocks of firearms and related ammunition, including those for use by military and law enforcement personnel, as well as those held by dealers, are kept securely.

New Zealanders coming together for the National Remembrance Service on 29 March 2019 following the Christchurch terror attack, Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people were killed and dozens injured when a gunman opened fire at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques on 15 March. The attack was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history ©Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images


CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS UNFAIR

Constitutional due process and elementary justice both require that the judicial functions of trial and sentencing be conducted with fundamental fairness, especially where the irreversible sanction of the death penalty is involved. In murder cases (since 1930, 88 percent of all executions have been for this crime), there has been substantial evidence to show that courts have sentenced some persons to prison while putting others to death in a manner that has been arbitrary, racially biased, and unfair.

Racial Bias in Death Sentencing

Racial discrimination was one of the grounds on which the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in Furman. Half a century ago, in his classic American Dilemma (1944), Gunnar Myrdal reported that "the South makes the widest application of the death penalty, and Negro criminals come in for much more than their share of the executions." A study of the death penalty in Texas shows that the current capital punishment system is an outgrowth of the racist "legacy of slavery." Between 1930 and the end of 1996, 4,220 prisoners were executed in the United States more than half (53%) were black.

Our nation's death rows have always held a disproportionately large population of African Americans, relative to their percentage of the total population. Comparing black and white offenders over the past century, the former were often executed for what were considered less-than-capital offenses for whites, such as rape and burglary. (Between 1930 and 1976, 455 men were executed for rape, of whom 405 – 90 percent – were black.) A higher percentage of the blacks who were executed were juveniles and the rate of execution without having one's conviction reviewed by any higher court was higher for blacks. (Bowers, Legal Homicide 1984 Streib, Death Penalty for Juveniles 1987)

In recent years, it has been argued that such flagrant racial discrimination is a thing of the past. However, since the revival of the death penalty in the mid-1970s, about half of those on death row at any given time have been black. More striking is the racial comparison of victims. Although approximately 49% of all homicide victims are white, 77% of capital homicide cases since 1976 have involved a white victim.

Between 1976 and 2005, 86% of white victims were killed by whites (14% by other races) while 94% of black victims were killed by blacks (6% by other races). Blacks and whites are murder victims in almost equal numbers of crimes – which is a very high percentage given that the general US population is 13% black. African-Americans are six times as likely as white Americans to die at the hands of a murderer, and roughly seven times as likely to murder someone. Young black men are fifteen times as likely to be murdered as young white men.

So given this information, when those under death sentence are examined more closely, it turns out that race is a decisive factor after all.

Further, studies like that commissioned by the Governor of Maryland found that “black offenders who kill white victims are at greater risk of a death sentence than others, primarily because they are substantially more likely to be charged by the state’s attorney with a capital offense.”

The classic statistical study of racial discrimination in capital cases in Georgia presented in the McCleskey case showed that "the average odds of receiving a death sentence among all indicted cases were 4.3 times higher in cases with white victims." (David C. Baldus et al., Equal Justice and the Death Penalty 1990) In 1987 these data were placed before the Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp and while the Court did not dispute the statistical evidence, it held that evidence of an overall pattern of racial bias was not sufficient. Mr. McCleskey would have to prove racial bias in his own case – a virtually impossible task. The Court also held that the evidence failed to show that there was "a constitutionally significant risk of racial bias. " (481 U.S. 279) Although the Supreme Court declared that the remedy sought by the plaintiff was "best presented to the legislative bodies," subsequent efforts to persuade Congress to remedy the problem by enacting the Racial Justice Act were not successful. (Don Edwards & John Conyers, Jr., The Racial Justice Act – A Simple Matter of Justice, in University of Dayton Law Review 1995)

In 1990, the U.S. General Accounting Office reported to the Congress the results of its review of empirical studies on racism and the death penalty. The GAO concluded: "Our synthesis of the 28 studies shows a pattern of evidence indicating racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty after the Furman decision" and that "race of victim influence was found at all stages of the criminal justice system process. "

Texas was prepared to execute Duane Buck on September 15, 2011. Mr. Buck was condemned to death by a jury that had been told by an expert psychologist that he was more likely to be dangerous because he was African American. The Supreme Court stayed the case, but Mr. Buck has not yet received the new sentencing hearing justice requires.

These results cannot be explained away by relevant non-racial factors, such as prior criminal record or type of crime, as these were factored for in the Baldus and GAO studies referred to above. They lead to a very unsavory conclusion: In the trial courts of this nation, even at the present time, the killing of a white person is treated much more severely than the killing of a black person. Of the 313 persons executed between January 1977 and the end of 1995, 36 had been convicted of killing a black person while 249 (80%) had killed a white person. Of the 178 white defendants executed, only three had been convicted of murdering people of color. Our criminal justice system essentially reserves the death penalty for murderers (regardless of their race) who kill white victims.

Another recent Louisiana study found that defendants with white victims were 97% more likely to receive death sentences than defendants with black victims.[1]

Discrimination against the poor (and in our society, racial minorities are disproportionately poor) is also well established. It is a prominent factor in the availability of counsel.

Fairness in capital cases requires, above all, competent counsel for the defendant. Yet "approximately 90 percent of those on death row could not afford to hire a lawyer when they were tried.") Common characteristics of death-row defendants are poverty, the lack of firm social roots in the community, and inadequate legal representation at trial or on appeal. As Justice William O. Douglas noted in Furman, "One searches our chronicles in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strata in this society"(408 US 238).

Failure of Safeguards

The demonstrated inequities in the actual administration of capital punishment should tip the balance against it in the judgment of fair-minded and impartial observers. "Whatever else might be said for the use of death as a punishment, one lesson is clear from experience: this is a power that we cannot exercise fairly and without discrimination."(Gross and Mauro, Death and Discrimination 1989)

Justice John Marshall Harlan, writing for the Court in Furman, noted "… the history of capital punishment for homicides … reveals continual efforts, uniformly unsuccessful, to identify before the fact those homicides for which the slayer should die…. Those who have come to grips with the hard task of actually attempting to draft means of channeling capital sentencing discretion have confirmed the lesson taught by history…. To identify before the fact those characteristics of criminal homicides and their perpetrators which call for the death penalty, and to express these characteristics in language which can be fairly understood and applied by the sentencing authority, appear to be tasks which are beyond present human ability." (402 U.S. 183 (1971))

Yet in the Gregg decision, the majority of the Supreme Court abandoned the wisdom of Justice Harlan and ruled as though the new guided-discretion statutes could accomplish the impossible. The truth is that death statutes approved by the Court "do not effectively restrict the discretion of juries by any real standards, and they never will. No society is going to kill everybody who meets certain preset verbal requirements, put on the statute books without awareness of coverage of the infinity of special factors the real world can produce."

Evidence obtained by the Capital Jury Project has shown that jurors in capital trials generally do not understand the judge's instructions about the laws that govern the choice between imposing the death penalty and a life sentence. Even when they do comprehend, jurors often refuse to be guided by the law. "Juror comprehension of the law… is mediocre. The effect [of this relative lack of comprehension of the law]… is to reduce the likelihood that capital defendants will benefit from the safeguards against arbitrariness built into the… law."

Even if the jury's sentencing decision were strictly governed by the relevant legal criteria, there remains a vast reservoir of unfettered discretion: the prosecutor's decision to prosecute for a capital or lesser crime, the court's willingness to accept or reject a guilty plea, the jury's decision to convict for second-degree murder or manslaughter rather than capital murder, the determination of the defendant's sanity, and the governor's final clemency decision, among others.

Discretion in the criminal justice system is unavoidable. The history of capital punishment in America clearly demonstrates the social desire to mitigate the harshness of the death penalty by narrowing the scope of its application. Whether or not explicitly authorized by statutes, sentencing discretion has been the main vehicle to this end. But when sentencing discretion is used – as it too often has been – to doom the poor, the friendless, the uneducated, racial minorities, and the despised, it becomes injustice.

In its 1996 survey of the death penalty in the United States, the International Commission of Jurists reinforced this point. Despite the efforts made over the past two decades since Gregg to protect the administration of the death penalty from abuses, the actual "constitutional errors committed in state courts have gravely undermined the legitimacy of the death penalty as a punishment for crime." (International Commission of Jurists, Administration of the Death Penalty in the United States 1996)

In 2009, the American Law Institute (ALI), the leading independent organization in the U.S. producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize and improve the law, removed capital punishment from its Model Penal Code. The ALI, which created the modern legal framework for the death penalty in 1962, indicated that the punishment is so arbitrary, fraught with racial and economic disparities, and unable to assure quality legal representation for indigent capital defendants, that it can never be administered fairly.

Thoughtful citizens, who might possibly support the abstract notion of capital punishment, are obliged to condemn it in actual practice.


Contents

In 1896, the Philippine Revolution began. In December 1897, the Spanish government and the revolutionaries signed a truce, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, requiring that the Spanish pay the revolutionaries $MXN800,000 [b] and that Aguinaldo and other leaders go into exile in Hong Kong. In April 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, Commodore George Dewey aboard the U.S.S. Olympia sailed into Manila Bay leading the Asiatic Squadron of the U.S. Navy. On 1 May 1898, the United States defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay. Emilio Aguinaldo decided to return to the Philippines to help American forces defeat the Spaniards. The U.S. Navy agreed to transport him back aboard the USS McCulloch, and on May 19, he arrived in Cavite. [3]

The Proclamation on 12 June Edit

Independence was proclaimed on 12 June 1898 between four and five in the afternoon in Cavite at the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo some 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Manila. The event saw the unfurling of the Flag of the Philippines, made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herboza, and the performance of the Marcha Filipina Magdalo, as the national anthem, now known as Lupang Hinirang, which was composed by Julián Felipe and played by the San Francisco de Malabon marching band.

The Act of the Declaration of Independence was prepared, written, and read by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista in Spanish. The Declaration was signed by 98 people, [4] among them a United States Army officer who witnessed the proclamation. The final paragraph states that there was a "stranger" (stranger in English translation—extranjero in the original Spanish, meaning foreigner) who attended the proceedings, Mr. L. M. Johnson, described as "a citizen of the U.S.A., a Colonel of Artillery". [5] Despite his prior military experience, Johnson had no official role in the Philippines. [6]

Ratification Edit

The proclamation of Philippine independence was, however, promulgated on 1 August, when many towns had already been organized under the rules laid down by the Dictatorial Government of General Aguinaldo. [7] [8] 190 municipal presidents of different towns from 16 provinces—Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, Bataan, Infanta, Morong, Tayabas, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, La Union and Zambales—ratified the Proclamation of Independence in Bacoor, Cavite.

Later at Malolos, Bulacan, the Malolos Congress modified the declaration upon the insistence of Apolinario Mabini who objected to that the original proclamation essentially placed the Philippines under the protection of the United States.

Struggle for independence Edit

The declaration was never recognized by either the United States or Spain. Later in 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish–American War.

The Philippine Revolutionary Government did not recognise the treaty or American sovereignty, and subsequently fought and lost a conflict with the United States originally referred to by the Americans as the "Philippine Insurrection" but now generally and officially called the Philippine–American War, which ended when Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by U.S. forces, [9] and issued a statement acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty of the United States over the Philippines. [10] This was then followed on July 2, 1902, by U.S. Secretary of War Elihu Root telegraphing that the insurrection the United States had come to an end and that provincial civil governments had been established everywhere except those areas inhabited by Moro tribes. [11] Pockets of resistance continued for several years.

Following the end of World War II, the United States granted independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946 via the Treaty of Manila. [12] July 4 was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until August 4, 1964, when, upon the advice of historians and the urging of nationalists, President Diosdado Macapagal signed into law Republic Act No. 4166 designating June 12 as the country's Independence Day. [13] June 12 had previously been observed as Flag Day and many government buildings are urged to display the Philippine Flag in their offices.

Current location of the Declaration Edit

The Declaration is currently housed in the National Library of the Philippines. [1] It is not on public display but it can be viewed with permission like any other document held by the National Library.

During the Philippine–American War, the American government captured and sent to the United States about 400,000 historical documents. [14] In 1958, the documents were given to the Philippine government along with two sets of microfilm of the entire collection, with the U.S. Federal Government keeping one set. [14]

Sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, the Declaration was stolen from the National Library. [1] As part of a larger investigation into the widespread theft of historical documents and a subsequent public appeal for the return of stolen documents, the Declaration was returned to the National Library in 1994 by historian and University of the Philippines professor Milagros Guerrero, who mediated the return of the documents. [14]

The Act of the Proclamation of Independence of the Filipino People (Spanish: Acta de la proclamación de independencia del pueblo Filipino Filipino: Paggawa ng Pagpapahayag ng Kasarinlan ng Sambayanang Pilipino) is part of a long line of declarations of independence including the United States Declaration of Independence. It includes a list of grievances against the Spanish government stretching back to Ferdinand Magellan's arrival in 1521 and confers upon "our famous Dictator Don Emilio Aguinaldo all the powers necessary to enable him to discharge the duties of Government, including the prerogatives of granting pardon and amnesty." [15]


Medjugorje

Medjugorje [note 1] (Croatian: Međugorje, pronounced [mêdʑuɡoːrje] ) is a town located in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Mostar and 20 km (12 mi) east of the border with Croatia. The town is part of the Čitluk municipality and geographically part of Herzegovina. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of Catholic pilgrimage due to Our Lady of Međugorje, an alleged series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local children [2] that are still happening to this day. [3]

The name Međugorje literally means "between mountains". At an altitude of 200 m (660 ft) above sea level it has a mild Mediterranean climate. The town consists of an ethnically homogeneous Croat population of 2,306. The Roman Catholic parish includes four neighbouring villages: Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci. Since 2019, pilgrimages to Medjugorje have been authorized by the Vatican. [4] [5] Clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted." [6]


The World is Watching:

The killings of Black people in the United States have sparked mass movements across the country as people have taken to the streets to demand accountability, long overdue reforms to policing and criminal justice systems, and end to systemic racism. While the video-taped killing of George Floyd, as well as the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, fueled the protests, the use of deadly force against communities of color is tragically not new. It is part of a historic pattern of discrimination by law enforcement, including unjustified stops and searches, racial profiling, and excessive use of force.

Following the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black teenager, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Amnesty International issued Deadly force: Police use of lethal force in the United States, which focused on the laws governing the use of deadly force. This report shows that there has been a disturbing lack of progress over the past five years in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others. While three states – California, Washington and Missouri – have taken important but incremental steps, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

This newest research documents how law enforcement responded to protests about the use of deadly force with shocking amounts of excessive force against protesters and shows that there has been a disturbing lack of progress over the past five years in ensuring police officers use deadly force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others. Amnesty International USA recorded 125 separate incidents of police violence against protesters, in 40 States and D.C., between May 26 and June 5, 2020. The report chronicles the stories of more than 50 people in cities across the U.S. affected by police violence as Black Lives Matter has grown into the largest social movement in U.S. history. The report is the most comprehensive human rights analysis of police violence against protesters to date.

In the face of peaceful protests, law enforcement in cities across the country responded with tear gas, pepper spray, batons, kinetic impact projectiles, and flash grenades — in many cases with little or no warning. Rather than being a necessary and proportionate response to any specific threat, the use of force became a matter of first resort to enforce a curfew, to end an ongoing demonstration, or clear a park for a photo op, all in violation of international law and standards on the policing of protests. Protesters suffered serious injuries, including loss of sight, through the indiscriminate and excessive use of force by police. In many instances, protesters calling for systemic change and accountability for the killings of Black people were repeatedly viewed as the “enemy.” Peaceful demonstrations were often greeted from the start by armored vehicles and police outfitted in riot gear. Law enforcement officers equipped in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield created an atmosphere of fear and terror that was confrontational and intimidating in cities across the country, and, in the case of Portland, seemed to have the effect of inflaming tensions rather than de-escalating the situation.

As protesters took to the streets, wearing masks and attempting to socially distance due to COVID-19, police fired excessive amounts of tear gas and pepper spray. The natural response by people exposed to the chemicals, which was to remove their masks to flush out their eyes, noses, and mouths, and remove the chemicals, might have led to the spread of the virus among protesters, many of whom live in communities already disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

17 year-old Elena Thoman, who was tear gassed by police in Denver, told AIUSA researchers:

At first it feels like the feeling when you’re chopping onions and then escalates to the point where your skin is burning…I had a lot of open skin and it was burning for an hour. It made me cough a lot — I had to take my mask off because the mask had tear gas in it…so even though there is COVID, I had to take my mask off.

Amnesty International documented how law enforcement used excessive force not only against peaceful protesters but also against journalists, legal observers, and street medics across the country. Amnesty International interviewed journalists in Minneapolis, Minnesota Columbus, Ohio Des Moines, Iowa and Raleigh, North Carolina, and found that law enforcement engaged in a deliberate attack on the media and interfered with their ability to do their jobs. Law enforcement tear gassed and pepper sprayed members of the media, shot them directly with percussion grenades, used unnecessary physical force against them, inflicted serious injuries with kinetic impact projectiles, and detained and arrested them without proper access to medical care or disclosure of their legal rights — a violation of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Law enforcement agencies also repeatedly prevented legal observers from fulfilling their roles, subjecting them to excessive force despite their easily identifiable brightly colored clothing and, at times, arresting and detaining them in Chicago, Illinois, and Atlanta, Georgia, Las Vegas, NYC, as well as other cities. Legal observers play a vital role in ensuring protesters’ rights are protected and should never be targeted for arrest due to the conduct of protesters or in order to prevent their monitoring, which are both essential to hold police accountable if and when they abuse their authority and also serve as a necessary public check on their actions.

In addition to singling out journalists and legal observers, law enforcement agencies targeted medical volunteers that attended protests across the country to support the health and medical needs of the protesters. They were clearly identified by red crosses taped on their backpacks, shirts, white coats, hard hats and other visible areas, yet law enforcement repeatedly, and deliberately, targeted both the volunteers and the clearly identified aid stations, endangering not only the protesters, but also the medics that were treating them. Amnesty International spoke with street medics who were volunteering in cities such as Seattle, Washington Columbus, Ohio and Minneapolis, Minnesota and found that law enforcement physically assaulted, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and shot at medics with flash grenades and kinetic impact projectiles such as rubber bullets. Under international law, law enforcement is to avoid targeting medical crews to allow them to provide treatment and first aid.

NBC News photojournalist Ed Ou, after he and other journalists were attacked by police officers in Minneapolis:

They had enough time to shake the pepper spray and to spray it, despite me and others shouting, ‘Press, press,’ continually.

The group was corralled back into a dead end with nowhere to escape as the officers used batons to beat them and discharged grenades, tear gas, and pepper spray on them. His head was bleeding. Despite his repeatedly asking for help, several law enforcement officers walked past him offering no assistance. Ed Ou was treated at a nearby hospital, requiring four stitches for his head injury.

I’ve literally spent most of my career in places where being a journalist was something I had to hide and something I had to be careful about sharing. And this is one place where I should be able to proclaim this is what I do.

President Trump’s recent actions to encourage more excessive force in policing represent a slippery slope more befitting an authoritarian system than a democracy. The country’s approach to the policing of protests must be changed from the ground up at the local, state, and federal levels.

Amnesty International USA is calling on all law enforcement agencies to revise their policies and practices for the policing of protests, and to comply with international human rights standards, and for the Department of Justice and all state Attorneys General to investigate, effectively, impartially, and promptly, all allegations of human rights violations by police officials during public assemblies, bring all those found responsible, to account, and provide redress to victims.


We campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 10 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights.

Who We Are

Since 1961, we’ve been helping people claim their rights across the world.

What We Do

From the death penalty to free speech, we protect people’s human rights.

Get Involved

Write a letter, volunteer, donate… and speak out against injustice worldwide.


How is Libya handling the crisis?

According to CNN, the U.N.-backed Libyan government has launched a formal investigation into the allegations. But Libya is largely considered a failed state. Since Muammar Gaddafi, who ran the country for four decades, was ousted in 2011, the country has descended into civil war. A transitional government failed to implement rule of law in the country, which has splintered into several factions of militias, tribes, and gangs. In lawless Libya, many see the slave trade and smuggling as a lucrative industry. Tackling the country’s humanitarian crisis will require international assistance.

On Wednesday, Libya reached a deal with E.U. and African leaders to allow the emergency repatriation of refugees and migrants facing abuse in its detention centers. The government also agreed to open a transit center for vulnerable refugees after months of negotiations, according to Reuters. The center is intended to safely house people before they are resettled or sent to a third country.


Watch the video: Today in History - May 28 - Amnesty International Foundation 1961 (January 2022).