Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member

Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.

A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.

Michael Brown’s dreams of going to college shattered in that moment, and his parents and family are left mourning over a son, cousin, and grandson. #MikeBrown’s death has reignited a national conversation about race and policing and the deep injustices of state violence on the streets of the United States.

When children grow up - if they are not themselves killed by police or gun violence first - too often they are scarred and traumatized because our government has failed to take positive steps to prevent this violence.

As demonstrators in Ferguson rise up in mass protest against a police force that has taken one of their own, the city’s response to traumatized residents has been tragically heavy-handed and horrific. Aggressive militarized police sweeps, arrests of journalists, the use of tear gas and rubber bullets – all of this we can see, in real-time, on television and in a growing tsunami of social media dissent.

And all of this painfully reminding communities of color, in particular, that devaluation of Black and Brown life remains a poignantly unresolved human rights crisis on the streets of the United States.

But, sadly, this is not new. We have seen examples of Michael Browns before. The list of young people of color deprived of their right to life by police is long and, disturbingly, growing.

As an Amnesty International activist and organizer against police brutality here in Miami, I have seen this first-hand – when we organized rallies against the Miami Beach police for shooting to death Husien Shehada, a young Palestinian-American tourist. And, more recently, when Israel “Reefa” Hernandez – an unarmed young Latino graffiti artist – was taser-killed by Miami Beach police.

As we continue to organize on the streets for “Reefa,” it’s the tears on the faces of family members and friends of Reefa that compel us to keep pushing for justice.

Black, Latino, Palestinian, LGBT, women – the impacts on all communities are tragic and real. But impacts don’t stop at family and friends. When the state takes away the life of a human being in a community, the entire community is impacted.

The tragedies of Michael Brown, Husien Shehada, and Israel “Reefa” Hernandez impact all of us, everywhere, because everyone has the human right to life and to be safe in our communities, and to be free from discrimination and when these rights are not protected, our communities become locked in fear and polarized.

Mothers and fathers live in constant fear that what should ordinarily just be a walk in the park for their child might transform into a moment of brutal state violence. Communities lose faith in their judicial system and that lack of trust can lead to a sense of nihilism and depression that saps communities and undermines civic engagement.

And when children grow up – if they are not themselves killed by police or gun violence first – into adulthood, too often they are scarred and traumatized because our government has failed to take positive steps to prevent this violence and hold those responsible to account.

Amnesty International supports an independent, impartial investigation of the death of Michael Brown and of the apparently heavy-handed tactics used by police in the aftermath of Michael’s death.

Today, we also will participate in a National Moment of Silence in solidarity with victims of police brutality – with physical events and vigils across the United States, as well as virtually showing solidarity.

All people deserve to feel safe in their community. We must honor Michael, Reefa, Husien and all the others because all lives matter. Human rights matter. I hope you will join me.

Muhammed Malik is a long-time community organizer in Miami and is one of the co-founders of the “Justice for Reefa” police accountability committee. A member of Amnesty International for 10 years, he is the founder and former president of Amnesty International at Florida International University.

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3 thoughts on “Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

  1. If all lives really do matter, please consider the lives of our children, the elderly, and families who are if not equally, more afraid, of being shot and killed or seriously injured by aimless young men of color… black and brown. There is no suggestion we should not take seriously the behavior of law enforcement when their actions seem criminal. There is the hope and plea that Amnesty International and other human right organizations would proactively work to secure the rights of children to live without fear in their communities; the right of the elderly to live out their lives in the safety of their homes and walk the streets; the right of adults to walk and drive throughout their communities as they travel to work, worship services, grocery stores, etc… Should it matter who is impeding our human rights for action to change criminal behavior?

    • Are you suggesting that people should be more afraid of aimless brown or black than aimless white? If so, I would suggest you research crimes that occur in the white demographic.

    • I have been accosted and verbally abused and felt threatened by more white people than I ever have by people of color. It just sounds like you're a racist. __The issue here is accountability to law enforcement, and racism.__It's military grade equipment being given to local law enforcement who are then encouraged to use it on citizens. If that doesn't sound like a dictatorship, then we're all brainwashed. Shame on you for your ignorance.