Slideshow by @plussone.
Slideshow by @plussone.
On November 12-14, 2014, We Charge Genocide (WCG) sent a delegation of eight youth to Geneva, Switzerland to present evidence of police violence at the 53rd session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The delegation was following up on the submission of the shadow report Police Violence Against Youth of Color, which WCG had published after a period of documentation, research, and collecting testimony, which took place during summer 2014. The goal of addressing the United Nations, in following with the WCG mission, was to increase visibility of police violence in Chicago and call out the continued impunity of police officers who abuse, harass, and kill youth of color in Chicago every year.
The WCG youth delegation documented their trip to Geneva on social media. The delegation also made the decision to walkout during the second day of the proceeding and initiated a historic protest inside the United Nations during the presentation of U.S. Government representatives.
From the beginning, WCG hoped for an official statement from the international body of UNCAT calling out the Chicago Police Department by name as a source of torture in the United States. This happened on November 28th, 2014, when the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) released concluding remarks in review of United States government’s implementation of Convention Against Torture. Police shootings and “fatal pursuit of unarmed black individuals”, lack of statistical data on police brutality, and failure to show investigations addressing the issue are all mentioned in the UNCAT remarks. The Chicago Police Department is called out by name. The death of Dominique Franklin Jr. by a police tasering is cited specifically. These are the issues that the WCG youth delegation traveled all the way to Geneva to speak about during the 53rd session of the Committee Against Torture.
“The Committee is particularly concerned at the reported current police violence in Chicago, especially against African-American and Latino young people who are allegedly being consistently profiled, harassed and subjected to excessive force by Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers.” -Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America, Committee Against Torture, November 28th, 2014
We Charge Genocide was not the only group with Chicago connections that presented evidence at the UNCAT on police torture, but was the main group focused on violence against youth of color. Here are some of the other group that presented on key issues:
Videos from live streaming of CAT session are now available.
There is also an English transcript.
The official remarks of Ethan, Asha, and Breanna from UNCAT proceedings were also repeated for the audience in Chicago during the reportback event. These statements, along with the WCG report, were key in the Committee Against Torture naming the Chicago Police Department specifically as source of police violence and torture in the United States.
Asha’s Statement to representatives of U.S. government
Breanna’s Statement as a directly impacted individual
We Charge Genocide | wechargegenocide.org | @ChiCopWatch #WCGtoUN
Chicago Police Violence Against Black and Latino Youth Called Out by United Nations Committee Against Torture
After report and testimony from Chicago’s We Charge Genocide, UNCAT “particularly concerned” over CPD profiling, harassment and excessive force.
Chicago 11/31 — On Friday, 11/28, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) issued Concluding Observations after holding their 53rd Session in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month, during which the U.S. was under review.
From Nov. 12 to 13, We Charge Genocide (WCG) joined groups and individuals from across the country who traveled to the United Nations to expose torture in the U.S., especially at the hands of the police. The eight young delegates from Chicago submitted a report to UNCAT on police violence against youth of color, testified before the committee, and held a historic protest inside UNCAT chambers during the U.S. response to their charges of genocide.
Because of WCG’s report and presentation, UNCAT directly mentions Chicago Police violence against youth of color in their observations:
“The Committee is particularly concerned at the reported current police violence in Chicago, especially against African American and Latino young people who are allegedly being consistently profiled, harassed and subjected to excessive force by Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers. It also expresses its deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals. In this regard, the Committee notes the alleged difficulties to hold police officers and their employers accountable for abuses.”
In their observations, UNCAT recommends the the U.S.:
Regarding Taser use by police, UNCAT also expresses concern “about numerous, consistent reports that police have used electrical discharge weapons against unarmed individuals,” including “Dominique [Damo] Franklin Jr. in Sauk Village, Illinois.” During their protest at the U.N., WCG members held up a poster of Damo, which was shown repeatedly in news reports.
Statement from We Charge Genocide Organizers:
“We went to Geneva as a delegation of We Charge Genocide with the intention of getting Chicago visibly named as a site for systematic, horrific and punitive police violence against Black and Brown youth on a daily basis, and it is safe to say that we achieved our goal. While going to Geneva to present our report on police violence against Black & Brown youth in Chicago was not our end goal as We Charge Genocide, we feel a slight sense of relief in the fact that the violence that Black and Brown youth systematically experience every day in Chicago is now getting the attention, internationally, that it deserves, which will only serve as an uplifting foundation in our continued work in challenging police violence in Chicago.”
UNCAT comments on police torture survivors in Chicago were prompted by members of the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) who testified in Geneva and submitted a shadow report on the Burge torture cases.
The report submitted by WCG to UNCAT is titled, We Charge Genocide: Police Violence Against Chicago’s Youth of Color. Key findings include:
We Charge Genocide is volunteer-run by Chicago residents concerned that the epidemic of police violence continues uninterrupted in Chicago and who seek to equip individuals across the city with tools to more proactively hold police accountable. The name We Charge Genocide comes from a petition filed to the United Nations in 1951, which documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses, mostly by the police.
We Charge Genocide press releases and press kit: http://wechargegenocide.org/
CAT Concluding Observations Press Release | 11/29/14 via U.S. Human Rights Network
UN Committee Against Torture Calls Out Chicago Police for Brutality, ‘Excessive Use of Force’ | 11/29/24 by Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake
U.N. report on torture recommends prompt, impartial investigations of police brutality | by Susan Weich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
WCG Walks Out on US Gov’t Representatives at the UN
Last night, the We Charge Genocide team walked out on the 23 U.S. government representatives during their time to respond to the concerns we raised. Asha presented our 2-minute statement, which included a critique that there is no real mechanism for pointing to the police as a source of violence or for accountability. For two hours, we supported survivors and advocates speaking on their issues and telling their stories.
The session finished with a response from the representatives of the state. We were insulted by their suggestion that 330 police in the past 5 years being prosecuted could even begin to rectify the violence Black and Brown communities experience at the hands of the police and the state, considering that there were 300+ taserings by the police in Chicago alone in one year.
Like we asserted in our statement, we were not accepting any apologies or any excuses. And so, the WCG crew walked out the moment we heard this ridiculous claim of “progress”. We left the state reps squirming in their seats and were happy to arrive to their review in the morning to hear the UN Committee Against Torture grill them on all the issues we raised.
To summarize, the U.S. government is in the hot seat at the UN this week and we are being heard. Much thanks from the 8 delegates to everyone sending us love and solidarity from afar.