George Floyd’s family members and attorneys sign ‘urgent appeal’ to the United Nations to end ‘extrajudicial killings of African-Americans’

George Floyd’s family members and attorneys sign ‘urgent appeal’ to the United Nations to end ‘extrajudicial killings of African-Americans’
Mural showing the portrait of George Floyd in Mauerpark in Berlin. To the left of the portrait the lettering "I can't Breathe" was added, on the right side the three hashtags #GeorgeFloyd, #Icantbreathe and #Sayhisname. The mural was completed by Eme Street Art on 29 May 2020.

Huge protests in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 have been taking place not in the United States, but in countries all over the world — from Australia to Italy to Brazil to South Africa. And Floyd’s family and attorneys, according to Law & Crime reporter Colin Kalmbacher, have filed a “urgent appeal” to the United Nations and asked for recommendations on ways in which the U.S. can make reforms in police work.

In a four-page letter addressed to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, they described the killing of George as “torture” and an “extrajudicial killing” and listed some of the reforms they would like to see — which range from an end to “military-type training of police” to mandatory “use of body cameras for all police officers” to setting up “an independent commission to review, investigate, prosecute and conduct independent autopsies in all police extrajudicial killings.”

The letter was signed by Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, as well as by Philonise Floyd (George Floyd’s brother), Quincy Mason Floyd (George Floyd’s son), Cardozo Law School Professor Gabor Rona and attorneys Steven Hawkins and Jotaka L. Eaddy.

All four of the Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest — Derek Chauvin, Thomas K. Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and are facing criminal charges. And the letter to the UN discusses them individually.

According to the letter to the UN, “During his arrest, four police officers restrained (Floyd) using unlawful and excessive force. Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while Mr. Floyd was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. As Officer Chauvin kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck, a second and third officer, Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, kneeled on his back and legs. A fourth officer who was present, Tou Thao, did not intervene to stop the use of unlawful and excessive force — and instead, stood guard to stop citizens from intervening to save George Floyd’s life and threatened them with mace.”

The letter goes on to tell the UN, “The United States of America has a long pattern and practice of lethal police violence disproportionately applied to persons of African descent. Many of these cases have resulted in the failure of state and local governments to hold accountable police officers who commit human rights violations.”

Other cases involving police overreach are cited in the letter, including the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City in 2014 and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13, 2020. And the letter also mentions some killings that have been decried as examples of vigilante justice such as Ahmaud Arbery’s death in Georgia earlier this year.

“The extrajudicial killing of African-Americans by police officers in the United States constitutes such a pervasive and widespread pattern that white Americans have been emboldened to act as vigilantes,” the letter to the UN asserts.

Crump told Law & Crime, “When a group of people of any nation have been systemically deprived of their universal human right to life by its government for decades, it must appeal to the international community for its support and to the United Nations for its intervention.”

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