Amnesty International says it has documented 125 instances of violence against protesters for racial justice in the U.S. over an 11-day period In May and June, NPR reports. The human rights organization says that in the five years since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., “there has been a disturbing lack of progress…in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others.” The incidents took place between May 26 and June 5 in 40 states and the District of Columbia. They involve alleged excessive force by state and local police departments as well as National Guard troops and federal agents. Among the incidents are beatings, the use of tear gas and pepper spray, and the firing of “less lethal” munitions. The study documented the targeting of medics, legal observers, and journalists by law enforcement officers.
In one episode, Lizzie Horne, a Rabbinical student and protester in Philadelphia, said, “Out of the blue, they started breezing pepper spray into the crowd…Then they started with the tear gas…People started putting their hands up but the cops wouldn’t let up.” The report calls for action to limit the use of deadly force by law enforcement. “The unnecessary and sometimes excessive use of force by police against protesters exhibits the very systemic racism and impunity they had taken to the streets to protest,” said Ernest Coverson, Amnesty International USA’s End Gun Violence Campaign Manager. “The research shows that people who were simply exercising their human right to peacefully protest were met with such violence that they lost eyesight, survived brutal beatings, and suffered seizures and severe wounds.”