UN cites “disproportionate use” of force against anti-racist protesters

The UN warned on Friday July 24 against a “Disproportionate use” of force against anti-racist protesters in American cities, and expressed concern about possible “Arbitrary detentions”.

“The peaceful demonstrations that have taken place in cities in the United States, such as Portland, must be able to continue”, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Elizabeth Throssel said in a virtual briefing. Protesters and journalists covering the protest must be able to do so without risking “Arbitrary arrests or detention, nor be subjected to a disproportionate use of force”, she added.

Numerous videos posted on social media over the past week show these federal agents in paramilitary gear and without visible identification badges appearing from unmarked vehicles to stop protesters. According to documents submitted to an Oregon court by the person responsible for this “Rapid deployment force”, these men in camouflage fatigues intervening in Portland would come from three contingents of the Department of Homeland Security: the Federal Protection Service, the Immigration Police (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection Agency ( CBP). “The authorities must ensure that federal and local security forces are clearly identified and use force only when necessary, and according to international standards”, continued Mme Throssel.

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Official investigation

An official investigation was opened Thursday by the US Department of Justice into the controversial action of federal police in Portland, where clashes pitted law enforcement against anti-racist protesters almost every night. Several other legal proceedings were launched by plaintiffs contesting the mobilization of federal forces, accused by some of behaving like paramilitary commandos.

The Mayor of Portland himself, Ted Wheeler, spoke of a “Disproportionate reaction” federal agents, after being sprayed with tear gas Wednesday night as he went to meet protesters. “I haven’t seen anything that justifies” this use of tear gas.

The movement began more than fifty days ago, as elsewhere in the country, after the death of an African American, George Floyd, asphyxiated in late May under the knee of a white policeman. President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of federal agents to several cities, such as Chicago, to ” restore order “, sparking an uproar especially among Democratic officials.

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The World with AFP