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UN human rights office criticizes US police for excessive use of force during protests

The UN human rights office has called on U.S. police security forces to limit their use of force against protestors and journalists on Friday, due to recent clashes between federal agents and protestors in Portland, Oregon.

UN human rights spokesperson stated that:

“[Peaceful demonstrations] really must be able to continue without those participating in them and also the people reporting on them, risking arbitrary arrest or detention being subject to the unnecessary, disproportionate or discriminatory use of force, or suffering other violations of their rights.”

Recent racial injustice protests

Protests raged in the US after George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, died in handcuffs after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Millions of peaceful protestors filled U.S. cities, in what the New York Times has called “the largest movement in US history,” to protest the racial injustices at the hands of the U.S. police. 

Trump’s response to recent protests

President Trump, eager to quell the unrest, deployed federal forces to Portland, sparking outrage among city officials who oppose the move.

Reports emerged of unidentified federal officers snatching Portland protestors and taking them away in unmarked vehicles without probable cause.  

Trump then went on to defend his actions stating unrest in Portland is “worse than Afghanistan,” stating he would also consider sending forces to Chicago and New York.

New rules protecting demonstrators right to protest

The Department of Homeland Security investigated the recent incidents with unidentified federal officers arresting protestors. Judge Micheal H. Simons, the acting judge, barred officers “from arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or other legal observers without probable cause.”

UN spokesperson, Elizabeth Throssell, stated federal and local security forces must be “properly and clearly identified.” They must also use force only when necessary and in accordance with international standards.

Read more from the Washington Post here and here, and the New York Times.

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