Human rights group leads police accountability protest

Amnesty International USA organizes a march across the Brooklyn Bridge, demanding police accountability.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (MARCH 20, 2015) (REUTERS) – Members of Amnesty International USA marched across the Brooklyn Bridge demanding police accountability in New York on Friday (March 20).

“The reason that we chose Shereese Francis, Eric Garner and Akai Gurley as three cases we’re focusing on is because it was right here in New York City,” said Amnesty International field organizer Noor Mir.

“They were both unarmed, they were all black, and they were all between the ages of 20 and 40. In all three instances they were violent deaths. We’re asking for some response, we’re asking for some accountability. We’re asking for the United States to finally step up to international human rights standards with policing, to abide by the U.N. code of conduct relating to firearms and the use of force. These are things that we’re not seeing happen and that we need to finally happen. We’re also asking for the Department of Justice to finally release some information about how many of these instances there are, we don’t even know. So until there’s transparency, there’s not a way to move forward.”

The human rights group called for laws to be changed against police who use deadly force against someone even if there is no imminent threat of harm to the police or anyone else. The report calls on state lawmakers to bring their statutes into compliance with international standards.

“We would like some justice for the victims and their families,” said Laura Coffey, an Amnesty International area coordinator from Ohio.

“They epitomize a much larger problem and that is where we’re hoping to mobilize the interest and emotional outrage that was sparked by their deaths and to use that to try to generate genuine sustained reform,” said Adotei Akwei, Amnesty International’s managing director.

Protesters marched to the Brooklyn Bridge, shouting “I can’t breathe,” a phrase Eric Garner shouted when he was placed in a chokehold by a New York police officer. Garner later died.

The shooting of Akai Gurley, 28, in a dark stairwell in Brooklyn added to a string of police actions involving unarmed black men that have inflamed racial tensions throughout the United States.

The group called for a review of the tactics used by police, which they said violate international standards.