by Ozair Islam
The United States of America (USA) is popularly known as The ‘Champion of Democracy and Human Rights’. But since the last two decades, in its journey towards a multicultural society, the USA is facing a lot of human rights issues domestically such as hate crimes, structural racism, and extrajudicial killings at the hands of law enforcement agencies. Several statistics show that gun-related violence including hate crimes and extrajudicial killings is taking place at an alarming rate and there exists systemic exploitation of human rights. Every day, US society is facing hate crimes, extrajudicial killings and police violence. Moreover, the government is also failing to introduce or initiate effective policies. Furthermore, in the case of extrajudicial killings, a culture of impunity is also at large. It seems the champion is failing at home lately.
Extrajudicial killings: Culture of impunity
In May 2020, amid the pandemic, protest erupted when security officers killed George Floyd, a Black-American. The movement quickly grew stronger and shifted into an ongoing movement popularly known as “Black Lives Matter”. Later the perpetrators, officer Chauvin and his associates were arrested and a trial is ongoing. Like Floyd, another Black American, Breonna Taylor also suffered the same state when she was shot eight times by the security forces during a botched-up raid. Since then, Floyd and Taylor have become the faces of racial violence and extrajudicial killings. But not all victims got the same media attention. According to the Centre for Justice and Accountability Report, only in the first 8 months of 2020, police have killed 164 black people in the USA.
However, according to the Mapping the Police Violence (MPV) statistics, ” Black People were 28% of total killed by police in 2020 despite being only 13% of the total population.” Moreover, according to Police Violence Report 2020, 1120 people were killed by police and only 16 cases were filed against the responsible officers. Again, according to the same report, 81 people were unarmed while being killed by police. Interestingly, 56 people were killed when police shot at a moving vehicle, a practice which should be banned according to the same report.
However, the killings also reveal a culture of impunity and lack of accountability. According to MPV statistics from 2013-2020, in 98% of cases, no officers were charged with a crime. As a result, the responsible leaderships get a free pass and get away with crimes.
Hate Crimes and Structural Racism
The everyday US society also reveals its elements of Hate Crimes and structural racism. There is an overlap between these issues. Hate crimes including mass shootings or targeted crimes are occurring every day in the USA. According to the US Department of Justice Report, in 2020, 7557 single-biased cases of hate crimes were recorded including 10,528 victims. The pattern also shows that 61.9% of cases were racially motivated, 20.5% of cases were motivated on sexual orientation and 13.4% cases were religiously motivated. Moreover, according to Al-Jazeera, the number of hate crimes in 2020 is the highest in the last 20 years and recorded a 6% increase than the last year. It seems day by day, hate crime is increasing and making the minor population more vulnerable. With the emergence of right-wing politics, a revival of neo-Nazis, xenophobia, and increasing racial crimes, the human rights condition is facing a serious threat of further deterioration.
On the other hand, another important aspect is the growing threat of mass-shooting. Mass shootings have become a recurring event in the USA. There are hardly any days where gun violence or mass shooting doesn’t take place. Even on September 24th, according to the USA Today report, mass shooting took place in Tennessee killing 2 and injuring 12 people. The incident took place in a grocery shop. However, the same report also shows the US that, six months ago, another mass shooting also took place in the state of Colorado killing at least 10 people. Even, public places including schools and religious places are also under constant threat of gun violence.
However, for increasing violence, the rights groups are blaming the role of the government. According to Amnesty International, the existing Castle Doctrine and ‘Stand Yan Ground’ law is deteriorating the scenario. Perhaps, the government is playing an inactive and appeasing role. Moreover, according to Global Times Report, 23 million guns were sold in the USA in 2020 only. It is also worthy to mention that, amid pandemic, the US administration also listed gun stores as essential stores.
Moreover, apart from hate crimes, structural racism can also be found in administrative decisions. According to Human Rights Watch, there exists aggressive policing in poor and minor communities. It is also known to all that, the pattern arrest reports suggest that black people are likely to get arrested by the police.
In conclusion, it seems since 9/11, extrajudicial killings and hate crimes are increasing day by day in the USA. The existing culture of impunity and government’s inactivity is allowing perpetrators to conduct the crimes making the minorities and poor population more vulnerable than ever. In a global context, the USA is a defender of human rights but it is clearly failing at home. In order to uphold global values and ensure human rights, the USA must improve its domestic conditions first.
About the writer:
Ozair Islam, a strategic affairs and foreign policy analyst, is currently working as a consultant to a Bangladeshi NGO. He can be reached at email@example.com