The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent found that police killings of blacks in the U.S. are reminiscent of lynchings that occurred in the country, as reported by Reuters. On Monday, the report will be debated at the UN Human Rights Council, and it will be suggested the government implement a tracking system plan for the disturbing trend.
It’s a startling assessment as racial tensions seem to be at a boiling point, with numerous police shooting deaths of black men over the past few months. The UN working group said these killings evoke the mob lynchings of blacks that occurred in the 19th and 20th century, which a report from non-profit group Equal Justice Initiative said killed 3,959 black people in southern states between 1877 and 1950. The report stated that the U.S. had tried their hand at reform, but it hasn’t been enough:
Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching…In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.
As with the recent police shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott and the protests that followed, officer conduct has been scrutinized. In some of these cases, the officers’ body cams were not on, and some departments’ investigations have not been as forthright as people hope. Reuters reported the UN working group said the investigations into the officers who were responsible is even murkier:
Police killings go unpunished because initial investigations are usually conducted by the police department where the alleged perpetrator works, because prosecutors have wide discretion over presenting charges, and because the use of force is not subject to international standards, the experts’ group said.
The proposed national tracking system would track excessive force use and the resulting deaths, along with implementing education programs to help fight bigotry. Chicago, which has seen its fair share of police shootings, recently announced a new plan to combat violence by hiring more officers and setting up community mentorship groups. This won’t offer overnight solutions, but it is a step forward for an issue that has become increasingly prevalent in America.