The brother of George Floyd, a Black man who was murdered by US police last month, has appealed to the UN Human Rights Council during their debate regarding investigations into US police brutality and systemic racism, calling for an independent Commission of Inquiry to be established.
Floyd repeated the story that sparked worldwide protests: his brother was tortured and murdered by four Minneapolis police officers. He went on to connect his brother’s story to those of countless other Black Americans who have been murdered at the hands of police officers.
“The way you saw my brother tortured and murdered on camera is the way Black people are treated by police in America,” Floyd said. “I am asking you to help me,” he added. “I am asking you to help us — Black people in America.”
“I hope that you will consider establishing an independent commission of inquiry to investigate police killings of Black people in America and the violence used against peaceful protestors.”
UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that George Floyd's murder - which she called an act of "gratuitous brutality" - has come to "symbolise the systemic racism that harms millions of people of African descent – causing pervasive, daily, life-long, generational and too often, lethal harm".
"Today's protests are the culmination of many generations of pain, and long struggles for equality," she added. "Too little has changed, over too many years. We owe it to those who have gone before, as well as those to come, to seize the moment – at long last – to demand fundamental change and insist upon it."
Bachelet also said there were "fundamental questions about whether we need to reconstruct from the ground up, rather than just reform in piecemeal fashion, the approaches to policing in our societies".
See her full statement here.
The United States withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in 2018, with Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley calling it a “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights”.
Floyd’s appeal to the UN on behalf of Black people is part of a long history, starting with W.E.B. DuBois’s statement to the UN “on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America” in 1947.
The UN’s recommendations have thus far pointed to reforms from the 2015 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that include limits on use of police force and training around racial bias. This differs from growing efforts to defund and ultimately abolish police departments and their supporting structures.