The Killing of Black People By Police is Americas Human Rights Crisis

Statement By Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Thursday, October 28, 2020

We must appeal to collective sense of justice before the appropriate Commissions at the United Nations to address the killing of unarmed Black and Brown people in the streets of America. As party to the various human and political rights treaties, the United States must stand before its peer sovereign nations and justify how she can continue to allow and endorse the excessive uses of force and the inhumane use of deadly force against Black people. We intend to take and press our case of political oppression and civic genocide at the hands of police in the United States, and we will lay them before the United Nation Commission on Human Rights.

For many decades there has been a practice and culture of police killing or seriously wounding innocent and/or unarmed African Americans. Even before Marcellis Stinnett, Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd - the pattern and the practice of use of lethal force by police, disproportionately used against Black bodies, continues with increasing frequency and regularity, and is certainly more blatant. Today, we say the names of some of the numerous Black and Brown lives who were taken away from family and community or forever altered by police violence.  We remember  Jonathan Price, Dijon Kizzee, David McAtee, Laquan McDonald, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, Michael Brent Charles Ramos, Breonna Taylor, Manuel “Mannie” Ellis, Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., Charles Roundtree Jr., Chinedu Okobi, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose Jr., Saheed Vassell, Stephon Clark, Aaron Bailey, Charleena Lyles, Jordan Edwards, Chad Robertson, Deborah Danner, Alfred Olango, Terence Crutcher, Terrence Sterling, Korryn Gaines, Joseph Mann, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Bettie Jones, Quintonio LeGrier, Corey Jones, Jamar Clark, Jeremy McDole, India Kager, Samuel DuBose, Sandra Bland, Brendon Glenn, Freddie Gray Jr., Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Phillip White, Mya Hall, Meagan Hockaday, Tony Robinson, Jr., Janisha Fonville, Natasha McKenna, Jerame C. Reid, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Tanisha Anderson, Dante Parker, Ezell Ford, Michael Brown Jr., John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, Victor White III, Gabriella Nevarez, Yvette Smith, McKenzie Cochran, Jordan Baker, Andy Lopez, Miriam Carey, Barrington “BJ” Williams, Jonathan Ferrell, Carlos Alcis, Larry Jackson Jr., Kyam Livingston, Clinton Allen, Kimani “KiKi” Gray, Kayla Moore, Jamaal Moore Sr., Johnnie Warren, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Noel Palanco, Reynaldo Cuevas, Chavis Carter, Alesia Thomas, Shantel Davis, Sharmel Edwards, Tamon Robinson, Ervin Jefferson, III, Kendrec McDade, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Jersey Green, Wendell Allen, Nehemiah Dillard, Dante’ Price, Raymond Allen Jr., Manual Loggins Jr., Ramarley Graham, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., Alonzo Ashley, Derek Williams, Raheim Brown, Jr., Reginald Doucet, Derrick Jones, Danroy “Henry Jr., Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Steven Washington, Aaron Campbell, Kiwane Carrington, Victor Steen, Shem Walker, Oscar Grant III, Tarika Wilson, DeAunta Terrel Farrow, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Ronald Curtis Madison, James Brissette Jr., Henry “Ace” Glover, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., Ousmane Zongo, Alberta Spruill, Kendra James, Orlando Barlow, Timothy Thomas Jr., Ronald Beasley, Earl Murray, Patrick Dorismond, Prince CJones Jr., Malcolm Ferguson, LaTanya Haggerty, Margaret Mitchell, Amadou Diallo, Tyisha Shenee Miller, Dannette “Strawberry” Daniels, Frankie Perkins, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Mary Mitchell, Yvonne Smallwood, Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Jerome Stewart, Eula Mae Love, Arthur Miller Jr., Randolph Evans, Barry Evans, Rita Lloyd, and Henry Dumas,  among others.

When we call the names of these whose lives have been stolen by state action and state enforced violence we also give voice to the demand that the world look to, investigate, and charge the United States of America with willful violation of the human rights of its citizens.  The families of Jacob Blake, Alvin Cole, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor gather here today, bearing their dignity and their grief to plead with us to civically  engage in this election. However, in this moment we must also say to the world that the United States is not the global example of humane treatment by police. Rather, it is the world’s stain on matters of human dignity, decency, and human rights. 

These rights continue to be attacked because the system is deigned to protect the system, not the people. The police have the support mechanisms to carry out these dastardly deeds - they have legal authority, a badge, guns and other military hardware, community prestige and police union support that seldom allows a white police officer that shoots or kills a black man or woman to be indicted, arrested, tried in a court of law, found guilty and sentenced according to the rule of law. 

This pattern is occurring with increasing regularity and is being met with silence from a Department of Justice that must be interpreted as a directive, not merely consent. When the government uses law enforcement to attack peacefully assembled protestors to make room for a presidential photo op, we have the example of the most egregious use of police powers known anywhere. When police violate constitutional rights, take Black and Brown lives, and assert that they are about law and order, invariably the President and Attorney General blame the victims, their families, and their communities for their own deaths. This is a genocidal pattern in public view!

What’s the pattern? It is death through “living while black,” “no health care while black,” “no access to capital while black,” “no jobs or job training while black,” “no education or affordable housing while black” and it’s generational and institutional racism. 

What will we do about it?  We must vote, and we must vote now! While voting is not the total answer, we must use the strongest non-violent weapon we have in our toolkit and vote about it.  We must replace those who pass unjust laws and enforce unjust policies and remove those who refuse to hold the police accountable.  We have the power and we must use it! We must vote like our lives depend on it – because they do.

If another country’s citizens were being killed in such numbers, say in France or Great Britain, or Jews being shot down on the streets of Germany, the whole world would cast judgment. Yet, there is no critique, no cry for justice, no signs of redress of the grievances of those in the United States who are under attack by the instruments of their own government. NOW is the time for the nations of the world to speak clearly to the government that often criticizes global bodies and coalitions with disdain. The congregation of world bodies must speak to the urgent human rights issue of being Black in America and the unrelenting use of police force against communities of color.

Now is NOT the time to become despondent nor complacent. NOW is the time to deepen our resolve and recommit to one another in our collective, united fight against the most vile human rights violations known in the world today - police brutality on the streets of the United States of America.