by Rachel O’Leary, AIUSA Deputy Executive Director, Membership Mobilization
AIUSA Delegate in Ferguson, MO
Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. When local residents took to the streets in protest, the police department responded with heavy-handed tactics – including tear gas and rubber bullets.
When I touched down in Ferguson, Missouri with the Amnesty International USA delegation, I didn’t know what to expect. We had some facts, but new details came to light by the hour, which helped us get a better grasp on policing in the city and on protestors, journalists and residents caught in the middle of rapidly evolving events.
Despite the fact that protests have been largely peaceful, police in Ferguson have continued to use heavy-handed tactics against protestors.
Here’s the thing about human rights: Everyone has them. It doesn’t matter what race a person is, what anyone is wearing or how loud they are yelling. All of that is irrelevant because human rights are universal whether you’re in Iran, Brazil, the U.S., or any other country.
Right now everyone in Ferguson – protesters, residents, police and local officials – holds these human rights:
- All people have the right to live free from violence and to be safe in their communities.
- All people have the right to peaceful protest.
- All people have the right to equality before the law.
Even if a protest turns violent, police must exhaust all non-violent means before resorting to force, and then use only what is strictly necessary and proportional in the particular circumstances.
Just two nights before, police kept journalists and human rights workers – including myself – from observing the tactics they used to disperse the crowd and make arrests.
Stand with Amnesty International in our work to protect the human rights of all people. Click here to demand Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson to investigate Michael Brown’s death immediately and respect the rights of peaceful protestors.