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Amnesty team in Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014
Members of the Amnesty International team in Ferguson, Missouri.
You know, or you should know, that your town's in trouble when Amnesty International feels compelled to send a delegation to see what the hell is going on there instead of in Chad, Cambodia or Honduras. That's what's happened in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the police slaying of Michael Brown. Amnesty sent in a 13-member team after seeing and reading about how the cops have treated citizens, visitors and reporters. Molly Reilly reports:
“Amnesty International has a long and tested history of monitoring and investigating police conduct, not just in foreign countries, but right here at home in the United States,” executive director Steven W. Hawkins said in a Sunday statement. “Our delegation traveled to Missouri to let the authorities in Ferguson know that the world is watching. We want a thorough investigation into Michael Brown’s death and the series of events that followed.” [...]

“This is a moment for people around the country -- and around the world -- to join the Ferguson community in raising concerns about race and policing, and about the impact of militarization on our fundamental right to peacefully assemble," Hawkins said

Sam Brodey at Mother Jones notes:
To find the closest parallel to what Amnesty is doing in Missouri, though, you have to look abroad. Huang says that Amnesty's work during Turkey's massive anti-government protests in 2013 most resembles the Ferguson mission. In Istanbul, activists gave medical assistance to injured protesters and observed the violent clashes involving protesters, police, and sometimes members of the press. They ultimately produced a huge report detailing the numerous human rights abuses carried out by Turkish police. Their concerns then—police brutality, harassment and detainment of the press—were also articulated in a statement about Ferguson.

What's happening in Ferguson and what happened across Turkey last year aren't the same, of course. But the similarities between the two situations—and the fact that Amnesty is in Ferguson in the first place—are, for many, making what's unfolding now even more troubling.

Somebody at the Center for Strategic & International Studies didn't much like Amnesty's decision to scrutinize what's happening in Ferguson. Consequently, this happened:
CSIS, Amnesty International
That generated some heat. But soon there was an apology from CSIS with the blame placed on an intern.

There is more below the orange tangle.

"This tweet was sent by a CSIS intern who had access to our Twitter account," Schwartz said in an email to Mashable. "This intern is not authorized to speak for CSIS and I condemn his words. Apparently, he had meant to send the tweet from his personal account and got confused in the process. The tweet in no way reflects CSIS's views or any views of the scholars at CSIS. I personally apologize to Amnesty and am taking action internally at CSIS to address this incident."
CSIS subsequently tweeted that it and Amnesty had made up.

On the ground in Ferguson, Jasmine Heiss, a member of the Amnesty International team, said police have interfered with the group's work, including restricting their access. On the eve of Attorney General Eric Holder appearing in Ferguson, AI's Hawkins called for investigation not only of the Brown slaying but of the police response:

“Attorney General Holder must reassure the people of Ferguson that a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into Michael Brown’s death is being conducted,” Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins said in a statement. “The public needs to know what measures the government will be taking to prevent excessive or unnecessary force from being used in the future – not only in Ferguson, but in every town and city in the United States.”
Amnesty is recommending:
• The Attorney General to begin an independent investigation into the use of force in connection with the policing of protests in Ferguson;

• Prompt implementation of a Justice Department-led review of police tactics, including the use of lethal force;

• The creation of a national commission to examine the use of excessive and lethal force, the militarization of police and the United States’ adherence to its human rights obligations in policing protests;

• The collection and publication of nationwide statistics on police shootings by the Justice Department.

The latter is something Congress passed in 1994. But it did so without funding and we all know what happens when something is mandated without providing the money to do it.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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