news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | August 19, 2014 | 4.38 pm IST

Amnesty International has sent ground observers to the United States for the first time ever, as public outrage grew over the killing of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, in the state of Missouri.

In an allegedly racist killing, an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, six times including one shot to the head. The officer accused, Darren Wilson, is a white man.

Anger over his death has led to violent protests, resulting in clashes between the police and protesters, and has also polarised opinion in the US. Every day since Brown’s death, Ferguson, which has a population of just 21,000 people, has seen protests. 

Dozens of people have been arrested for protesting, including a ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor who protested in St. Louis, Missouri. Hedy Epstein aided the international authorities in the Nuremberg trials. She told: “I've been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn't think I would have to do it when I was ninety. We need to stand up today so that people won't have to do this when they're ninety.”

Protesters and public have said that law enforcement authorities have been with a disproportionate amount of force. Currently, authorities have called in the National Guard to assist the local police. Law enforcement authorities used military equipment and tactics such as the use of armoured vehicles. Police have also fired upon protesters and used tear gas against them. 

According to Vox, Missouri is a predominantly black state, with over 60 pecent of its population being black. But government officials in local and state administration, in police and judiciary are dominated by white people. 

Given these circumstances, human rights group Amnesty International has sent a team of 13 observers to a community during a crisis. It has in the past sent teams to observe situations during and after crisis situations. 

The Washington Post quoted Jasmine Heiss, who is part of the group: “Reflecting on our time there, one of the most troubling things is what we didn’t see. When you see this kind of restricting of people protesting … it seems clear that the authorities are using the ill will of some to undermine the rest.”

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