WCG to UN

Summary of We Charge Genocide Trip to United Nations Committee Against Torture

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We Charge Genocide Sends Delegation to United Nations

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:

  • Martinez Sutton address UNCAT regarding the death of his sister Rekia Boyd, who was killed by an off duty Chicago police detective in 2012.
  • Shubra Ohri from People’s Law Office followed up on the Burge torture cases, which CAT condemed in past reviews, and pushed CAT to support the reparations Ordinance in Chicago.
  • Nikki Patin of Black Women’s Blueprint (organization based in NYC but she lives in Chicago) addressed police rape as torture against Black women.
  • Monica James from Transformative Justice Law Project testified on the profiling and abuse of transgender women of color by the state (including law enforcement) and isolation of transgender women in prison.

 

Videos from live streaming of CAT session are now available. 

There is also an English transcript.


Chicago Report Back Event

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On December 11th, the We Charge Genocide youth delegation spoke at a public reportback on their experiences in Geneva, Switzerland to an audience of over 200 in Chicago  The entire event was live-streamed and the video is available here.

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.

Ethan’s Statement to the Committee Against Torture

Asha’s Statement to representatives of U.S. government

Breanna’s Statement as a directly impacted individual

 

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Press Release: Chicago Police Violence Against Black and Latino Youth Called Out by United Nations Committee Against Torture

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We Charge Genocide | wechargegenocide.org | @ChiCopWatch #WCGtoUN

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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.:

  • Ensure that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism with no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators
  • Prosecute persons suspected of torture or ill treatment and, if found guilty, ensure that they are punished in accordance with the gravity of their acts.
  • Provide effective remedies and rehabilitation to the victims.
  • Provide redress for CPD torture survivors by supporting the passage of the Ordinance entitled Reparations for the Chicago Police Torture Survivors.

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:

  • From 2009 to 2013, although Black people comprised only 32.3% of Chicago’s overall population, 75% of police shooting victims were Black. Additionally, in the first six months of 2014, 23 of 27 people shot by the CPD were Black.
  • Between 2009 and 2011, 92% of Taser uses involved a Black or Latino target, including 49 youth under the age of 16 (with some as young as 8 years old).
  • Black youth accounted for 77% of the arrests of youth in 2011 and 79% in 2012. Latino youth accounted for most of the other arrests, i.e., 18% of these arrests in 2011 and 17% in 2012.
  • A brutality complaint is 94% less likely to be sustained in Chicago than in the nation as a whole: Only 0.48% of brutality complaints against the CPD are sustained (as opposed to 8% nationally).
  • Between 2002 and 2004, Chicago residents filed 10,149 complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, and false arrests against the CPD. Only 124 of these 10,149 complaints were sustained (1.2%), and a mere 19 cases (0.18%) resulted in any meaningful penalty (a suspension of a week or more)

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.

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We Charge Genocide press releases and press kit: http://wechargegenocide.org/category/press-release/

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

 

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Press Release: We Charge Genocide Holds Historic Protest Inside the United Nations During UNCAT Review of US Torture

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We Charge Genocide | wechargegenocide.org | @ChiCopWatch #WCGtoUN
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Contact: wechargegenocide@gmail.com, @ChiCopWatch


We Charge Genocide Holds Historic Protest Inside the United Nations During UNCAT Review of US Torture 
Geneva, Switzerland 11/14 — Chicago youth organizers presented a report this week to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva, Switzerland. Questions they wrote on police violence in Chicago were asked by the committee to U.S. representatives. During the U.S. response, We Charge Genocide delegates staged a historic protest, standing with their fists in the air for over a half hour.

Their protest was featured in articles yesterday from Newsweek, the Straights Times and Vice.
Free use photo from yesterday inside the UN - Please credit We Charge Genocide:
Storify post with tweets from inside the UNCAT session:
Video blog from delegates:

Public Statement from We Charge Genocide delegates:
“Today when U.S. representatives responded to one of United Nations Committee Against Torture’s questions regarding police use of tasers by claiming police are properly trained to use them and that they aren’t lethal, the eight We Charge Genocide delegates made eye contact with one another and all knew it was the moment for us to stand. We rose silently with our fists in the air, each holding an image of Dominique Franklin— a 23 year old friend who was tased to death by the Chicago Police Department this summer.
There was an immediate energy that shot through the room, and we were joined right away by Monica James, from the Transformative Justice Law Project, and two members from the National Center for Lesbian Rights/#BornPerfect. A UN staffer quickly approached us and demanded we stop, saying that this wasn’t allowed and she would call security. We refused. Staffer Thenjiwe McHarris from USHRN and Crista Noel came to our defense. After contesting the UN security’s demands with the support of Crista, we reached a negotiation that if we were silent we could continue to stand.
After five or ten minutes, we grabbed each other’s hands in the air and held them there for 30 minutes–  in honor and memory of the 30 minutes Rekia Boyd’s body laid in the street after being shot by a Chicago Police off-duty officer. Several fists throughout the room started to rise, including members of the @Ferguson_Geneva delegation, @ChicagoTorture, and students from the NEIU delegation. Most of us didn’t notice how many other people in the room had stood in solidarity with us until we looked up or when we finally sat down. A few people walked over to us with words of support, including an former Black Panther Jihad Abdulmumit who came behind us, whispering “Stay strong. You guys are heroes today.”
By this point, five police officers were stationed in the room and the U.S. Delegation continued to be visibly uncomfortable. Afterwards, the UNCAT committee gave the US reps a 7 minute break to prep and answer questions that the committee felt we’re unanswered in the first half of the session. During the break, UN security asked us and everyone who participated in the silent protest with us for our NGO badges and wrote our names down on a list, stating the reason as protocol “in case anything gets violent.”
The only violence in the room came after the break when the U.S. representatives reappeared with more ambiguous, insufficient, and fraudulent claims that attempted to silence the powerful stories presented before the UNCAT. The U.S. reps closed with no real evidence and left us expecting what we had already knew from the data in our report and our lived experiences, that the U.S. accountability measures are awfully inadequate.
While statistics and data are important to have in many platforms of effecting social change, personal narrative proved today to be what really moved the UNCAT members into grilling the US on their consistent and systematic forms of violence and control of people of color in this country. The U.S. dodged questions and misled committee members but our stories, our lives and our struggles were recognized on an international stage and that is undeniable. Know That.”
- END -
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Statement on Day 5: “In case anything gets violent” : We Charge Genocide’s final day at the UN

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“Today when U.S. representatives responded to one of United Nations Committee Against Torture’s questions regarding police use of tasers by claiming police are properly trained to use them and that they aren’t lethal, the eight We Charge Genocide delegates made eye contact with one another and all knew it was the moment for us to stand. We rose silently with our fists in the air, each holding an image of Dominique Franklin— a 23 year old friend who was tased to death by the Chicago Police Department this summer.

There was an immediate energy that shot through the room, and we were joined right away by Monica James, from the Transformative Justice Law Project, and two members from the National Center for Lesbian Rights/#BornPerfect. A UN staffer quickly approached us and demanded we stop, saying that this wasn’t allowed and she would call security. We refused. Staffer Thenjiwe McHarris from USHRN and Crista Noel came to our defense. After contesting the UN security’s demands with the support of Crista, we reached a negotiation that if we were silent we could continue to stand.
After five or ten minutes, we grabbed each other’s hands in the air and held them there for 30 minutes–  in honor and memory of the 30 minutes Rekia Boyd’s body laid in the street after being shot by a Chicago Police off-duty officer. Several fists throughout the room started to rise, including members of the @Ferguson_Geneva delegation, @ChicagoTorture, and students from the NEIU delegation. Most of us didn’t notice how many other people in the room had stood in solidarity with us until we looked up or when we finally sat down. A few people walked over to us with words of support, including an former Black Panther Jihad Abdulmumit who came behind us, whispering “Stay strong. You guys are heroes today”.  By this point, five police officers were stationed in the room and the U.S. Delegation continued to be visibly uncomfortable. Afterwards, the UNCAT committee gave the US reps a 7 minute break to prep and answer questions that the committee felt we’re unanswered in the first half of the session. During the break, UN security asked us and everyone who participated in the silent protest with us for our NGO badges and wrote our names down on a list, stating the reason as protocol “in case anything gets violent.”
The only violence in the room came after the break when the U.S. representatives reappeared with more ambiguous, insufficient, and fraudulent claims that attempted to silence the powerful stories presented before the UNCAT. The U.S. reps closed with no real evidence and left us expecting what we had already knew from the data in our report and our lived experiences, that the U.S. accountability measures are awfully inadequate.
While statistics and data are important to have in many platforms of effecting social change, personal narrative proved today to be what really moved the UNCAT members into grilling the US on their consistent and systematic forms of violence and control of people of color in this country. The U.S. dodged questions and misled committee members but our stories, our lives and our struggles were recognized on an international stage and that is undeniable. Know That.”
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-We Charge Genocide

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Statement: WCG Walks Out on US Gov’t Representatives at the UN

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Malcolm and Asha at the UN, moments before the delegation walked out in response to the US government representatives' statements.

Malcolm and Asha at the UN, moments before the delegation walked out in response to the US government representatives’ statements.

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.

#WCGtoUN @chicopwatch

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