By Ann Burroughs, Amnesty International USA board chair, and Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA executive director
Last week, over 1,100 human rights activists gathered in Brooklyn, New York. What for? Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting, appropriately themed this year “From Moment to Movement.” Braving rain and snow, people who have been members for decades –perhaps having joined as a result of the Human Rights Concerts of the 1980s—joined with those new to Amnesty– together reflecting on the spark of change that can begin in an instant and reverberate for years.
So that’s the ‘what’ – but why? What happens when you gather this powerhouse of activism in one place for one weekend? The answers say a lot about what it means to turn a moment into a movement.
I’m riding with folks from St. Louis on a nine hour trip to Selma. A fellow activist, Tiffany, asks the group, “When did you realize you were Black?”I thought about that question and imagined how different this ride would have been in 1965. The fear of being pulled over by a police officer on a back road and beaten to death while being called “boy,” “monkey” or “nigger.”
We are still dealing with the fear of interacting with police today. Black people are being targeted by law enforcement at an alarming rate and a “routine” traffic stop can still become a death sentence. “This ain’t no walk in the park,” fellow St. Louis native, activist, and comedian Dick Gregory tells me as we stand in the warm sun waiting for President Obama’s arrival.
Residents and faith and community leaders discuss unrest in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown during a forum held at Christ the King UCC Church on August 14, 2014. ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Rachel O’Leary, Amnesty Interntional USA Acting Deputy Executive Director for Membership Mobilization
On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old, was shot dead by a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force. The next day, the community organized protests condemning the actions of the police and demanding to know the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael. Those actions continue still, a week later.
I’m one of many human rights defenders in Bahrain and the region who are being targeted, attacked, arrested and imprisoned. I was imprisoned on the basis of fabricated charges of “illegal practices, inciting illegal assemblies, and organizing unlicensed demonstrations through Twitter and other social networking sites.”
Even though we live in a country whose firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries with comparable wealth and population size, , we haven’t conducted extensive research as to why this is the case (Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images).
By Jeremy Schroeder, Amnesty International USA Board Member
Over the weekend of April 4, while over 900 Amnesty International activists from around the country converged on Chicago for the Amnesty International USA Annual General Meeting, 27 Chicago residents were victims of gun violence. And over the following weekend, 36 more Chicagoans were shot in 36 hours.
The International Violence Against Women Act introduced yesterday in the Senate would make legislation ending violence against women a diplomatic and foreign assistance priority for the U.S. government (Photo Credit: Sarah K. Eddy).
The eyes of the world are currently focused on Nigeria and the efforts to free the nearly 300 schoolgirls currently held captive by Boko Haram. The abduction of these girls is yet another deeply disturbing example of the ways in which violence against girls and women affects every aspect of their lives, in this case, their right to education.
Even as we work to #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria, we continue to press for a permanent solution to end violence against women and girls globally.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate took an action that would help.
The state of Oklahoma attempted a “double execution” with a new “drug cocktail.” The procedure went horribly wrong and Clayton Lockett ultimately died of a massive heart attack (Photo Credit: Mike Simons/Getty Images).
By Robert Nave, State/Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator
From time to time, we are reminded about the horror that the United States continues to endorse with the archaic practice of the death penalty.
The state stole 30 years from Glenn’s life and almost killed him because of its mistake.
18 states have abolished this barbaric practice, and Amnesty International’s State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinators are working with the movement in their respective states to put an end to the death penalty across the country. New Hampshire may be next. Please join me now to help make that happen.