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During Renewed Racial Tensions, Killing by Police Reminiscent of Black Lynchings

policeA recent report by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has likened the recent police killings of African Americans to the country’s history of lynchings.

The report, which will be debated by the U.N. Human Rights Council on October 3rd, contains harsh criticism and highlights the need for the government to protect the black population. Over the last couple of weeks alone, street riots and protests have occurred as a result of two different black killings at the hands of police. Street riots broke out in Charlotte, North Carolina over the fatal shooting of Keith Scott, and a Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer recently turned herself in to authorities after shooting and killing Terence Crutcher.

The expert report was based on a visit to the U.S. in January involving a five-member group. Since that time, racial unrest and countless protests have occurred nationwide as a result of police brutality and killings in the African American community.

Because initial investigations of police killings are typically conducted by the department where the officer is employed, the majority of these offenses go unpunished. The use of force is not subject to international standards, and these police officers have been historically protected from any significant discipline.

However, the exact opposite is true for African Americans. The majority of those in the black community who were killed by police were unarmed, and African Americans are often unfairly targeted by law enforcement. Although statistics from 2012 stated that law enforcement made approximately 12,196,959 arrests in one year, those in the black community are disproportionately more likely to be arrested over those belonging to any other race. Although the U.S. government has made attempts at reform, the report urges that much more needs to be done to protect African Americans — and this needs to be done quickly.

The report states that “impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.” The U.N. group recommends that the U.S. needs to create a reliable and accurate system to track the use of excessive force and police killings nationwide. In addition, the prevalent racial profiling needs to be stopped, as it creates distrust between the black community and law enforcement. There is a call for the importance of education, as well as acts of reconciliation for past wrongdoings in our nation’s history towards African Americans.

Although the majority of lynching victims died by hanging, the report states that “contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror” of the mob killings of blacks that were prevalent during the 19th and 20th centuries. Because these killings keep happening, the government needs to stop standing idly by and take swift action to protect the black population.