US President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Last month, President Obama unveiled a number of actions his administration will take to help curb the increasing number of gun violence incidents in the United States. Included in those actions are new guidelines to strengthen background checks, provide increased access to mental health care, explore gun safety technology and implement more aggressive enforcement of current laws.
One of the agencies tasked with helping to enforce those laws is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). As a bureau within the Department of Justice, the ATF plays a key role in stopping the illegal use and trafficking of firearms. This is an issue that doesn’t just impact people in the United States but also individuals around the world; for example, 70 percent of the more than 104,850 guns seized by Mexican authorities from 2009-2014 can be traced back to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Protestors, activists, and community members listen to speeches at a candlelight vigil held for Jamar Clark on November 20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
One year ago today, on the evening of November 24, 2014, I remember watching one of the most anticipated legal decisions since the O.J. Simpson verdict. This was the night that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the shooting of Mr. Michael Brown.
One year later, my thoughts are 550 miles away in Minneapolis, MN, dealing with another police shooting of an unarmed black man. As in Ferguson, the community is protesting the targeting of black lives and the shooting of Mr. Jamar Clark. Community members are being arrested for expressing their constitutional right to peacefully assemble while the victim is being demonized as a criminal without the opportunity to defend himself, and the officers protected from the scrutiny of the citizens that they are sworn to protect. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown are among the countless lives that have been lost at the hands of law enforcement officers across the country. The reports of unnecessary or excessive force by police continue to mount, captured by body cameras, dashboard cameras, cell phones and eyewitnesses. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Gun violence is a national issue that impacts tens of thousands of Americans each year. Each day 88 people lose their lives to firearms in the United States, and countless other lives are permanently and irrevocably altered. The causes of this epidemic of violence are complex, but there are organizations working around the clock to bring it to an end.
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Suffocating smoke fills the night sky; sonic booms shake the black concrete streets while intense screams of men, women and children echo into the air like a blockbuster flick. But this isn’t a Michael Bay film. This a Monday night, August 18th, 2014, in Ferguson, and this is real life. This is my real life. The smoke that fills the air is tear gas, the sonic booms are from armored vehicles approaching protesters and executing gas bombs. The men, women and children are my friends and neighbors, residents of Saint Louis, Missouri, all of us in the streets for over a week demanding accountability.
A deep voice echoes from the PA on top of one of the armored cars: “please go back to your homes.” But THIS IS MY HOME. This is where I was born, fished with my grandpa in January-Wabash Park as a kid, graduated from Hazelwood East, wear my St. Louis Cardinals hat proudly. So when I’m being told to go home what exactly does that mean? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
By: Alice Dahle, Co-chair, Women’s Human Rights Thematic Specialist
On December 24, the first ever international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) regulating the sale of conventional arms and ammunition will go into effect. The treaty will require that before authorizing a sale of arms and ammunition across international borders, governments must assess the risk that the weapons will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, undermine peace and security, or engage in transnational organized crime. If an exporting country knows there is an “overriding” risk that the arms will be used for these purposes, the sale is prohibited.
In another break-through, the ATT is also the first legally binding international agreement that makes the connection between the international arms trade and gender-based violence (GBV). Only recently has the gendered aspect of armed violence been recognized. During the drafting of the treaty, Amnesty International joined with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the Women’s Network of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), and Oxfam to enlist the support of both governments and civil society for inclusion of a gender dimension in the treaty. As a result of these efforts, Article 7(4) of the ATT makes it mandatory for arms exporting countries to assess the risk that their weapons will be used in the commission of GBV and deny authorization of any sales that present an “overriding” risk. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The new “Young Black Alive” campaign is aimed at tackling the underlying human rights issues behind Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate. © Anistia Internacional Brasil
By Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil
Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities orfavelas.
Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Today, we learned that a grand jury in Ferguson decided not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown — an unarmed 18-year-old — in August.
The community response to Mike Brown’s death, and the response that is likely still to come, mark a pivotal moment in the human rights movement and in U.S. history.
It’s a moment of passion, of frustration, and of activism.
It’s within this moment that officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must stand up to ensure that each individual’s human rights — including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest — are respected, protected and fulfilled. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Police block demonstrators from gaining access to Interstate Highway 70 on September 10, 2014 near Ferguson, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Ernest Coverson, Field Organizer for Amnesty International USA-Midwest Region
When I wake up, I check the news in Ferguson, Missouri, a 37 day old habit I picked up since the killing of Michael Brown. The cameras have gone, the smoke has literally cleared, but the organizing in the community is still going strong. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
(Image: Facebook / Everytown for Gun Safety).
By Alice Dahle, Co-chair, Amnesty International USA Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
Twenty years ago, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to protect women who face domestic and sexual violence, dating violence and stalking through legal and social services. Amnesty International has actively campaigned for this legislation and its re-authorization throughout its history. Last year, we celebrated passage of a stronger, more inclusive version of VAWA with new provisions added to protect Indigenous women, immigrant women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of violence and survivors of human trafficking.
We were excited to learn that the Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing today entitled VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence. With well-founded concern about gun violence in our country, the Committee’s recognition of the relevance of VAWA to violence against women is timely and much appreciated.
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