The 20 Best Lines From the Supreme Court Dissent Calling to End the Death Penalty


The case before the Supreme Court concerned a specific question: Was a certain sort of capital punishment via lethal injection constitutional? In a decision issued Monday morning, the four conservative justices plus swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy said yes, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion for the court’s liberals taking the opposite position. But in a stinging dissent of his own, Justice Stephen Breyer, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, went much further: He called for abolishing the death penalty, contending that capital punishment, as it is currently practiced, violates the Constitution. His opinion was methodically argued and chockfull of research (on exonerations, various disparities in the application of the death sentence, and more). Breyer, who in 2008 sided with the court majority in upholding the use of lethal injections in Kentucky, noted that his own experience overseeing capital punishment cases has led him to a forceful and passionate position: The death penalty must go.

Here are the best passages from his opinion.

In 1976, the Court thought that the constitutional in­firmities in the death penalty could be healed; the Court in effect delegated significant responsibility to the States to develop procedures that would protect against those con­stitutional problems. Almost 40 years of studies, surveys, and experience strongly indicate, however, that this effort has failed. Today’s administration of the death penalty involves three fundamental constitutional defects: (1) serious unreliability, (2) arbitrariness in application, and (3) unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose. Perhaps as a result, (4) most places within the United States have abandoned its use.

I shall describe each of these considerations, emphasiz­ing changes that have occurred during the past four dec­ades. For it is those changes, taken together with my own 20 years of experience on this Court, that lead me to be­lieve that the death penalty, in and of itself, now likely constitutes a legally prohibited “cruel and unusual pun­ishmen[t].” U. S. Const., Amdt. 8.

*   *   *

[R]esearchers have found convincing evidence that, in the past three decades, innocent people have been executed.

*   *   *

[T]he evidence that the death penalty has been wrongly imposed (whether or not it was carried out), is striking. As of 2002, this Court used the word “disturb­ing” to describe the number of instances in which individ­uals had been sentenced to death but later exonerated. At that time, there was evidence of approximately 60 exonerations in capital cases….Since 2002, the number of exonerations in capital cases has risen to 115……Last year, in 2014, six death row inmates were exonerated based on actual innocence. All had been imprisoned for more than 30 years (and one for almost 40 years) at the time of their exonerations.

*   *   *

[T]he crimes at issue in capital cases are typically horren­dous murders, and thus accompanied by intense community pressure on police, prosecutors, and jurors to secure a conviction. This pressure creates a greater likelihood of convicting the wrong person.

*   *   *

[R]esearchers estimate that about 4% of those sentenced to death are actually innocent.

*   *   *

[B]etween 1973 and 1995, courts identified prejudicial errors in 68% of the capital cases before them.

*   *   *

This research and these figures are likely controversial. Full briefing would allow us to scrutinize them with more care. But, at a minimum, they suggest a serious problem of reliability. They suggest that there are too many in­stances in which courts sentence defendants to death without complying with the necessary procedures; and they suggest that, in a significant number of cases, the death sentence is imposed on a person who did not commit the crime….Unlike 40 years ago, we now have plausible evidence of unreliability that (perhaps due to DNA evidence) is stronger than the evidence we had before. In sum, there is significantly more research-based evidence today indicating that courts sentence to death individuals who may well be actually innocent or whose convictions (in the law’s view) do not warrant the death penalty’s application.

*   *   *

Thus, whether one looks at research indicating that irrelevant or improper factors—such as race, gender, local geography, and resources—do significantly determine who receives the death penalty, or whether one looks at re­search indicating that proper factors—such as “egregious­ness”—do not determine who receives the death penalty, the legal conclusion must be the same: The research strongly suggests that the death penalty is imposed arbitrarily.

*   *   *

The studies bear out my own view, reached after consid­ering thousands of death penalty cases and last-minute petitions over the course of more than 20 years. I see discrepancies for which I can find no rational explanations… Why does one defendant who committed a single-victim murder receive the death pen­alty (due to aggravators of a prior felony conviction and an after-the-fact robbery), while another defendant does not, despite having kidnapped, raped, and murdered a young mother while leaving her infant baby to die at the scene of the crime…Why does one defendant who committed a single-victim murder receive the death penalty (due to aggravators of a prior felony conviction and acting recklessly with a gun), while another defendant does not, despite having committed a “triple murder” by killing a young man and his pregnant wife?… For that matter, why does one defendant who participated in a single-victim murder-for-hire scheme (plus an after-the­ fact robbery) receive the death penalty, while another defendant does not, despite having stabbed his wife 60 times and killed his 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son while they slept?… In each instance, the sentences compared were imposed in the same State at about the same time.

The question raised by these examples (and the many more I could give but do not), as well as by the research to which I have referred, is the same question Justice Stew­art, Justice Powell, and others raised over the course of several decades: The imposition and implementation of the death penalty seems capricious, random, indeed, arbitrary. From a defendant’s perspective, to receive that sentence, and certainly to find it implemented, is the equivalent of being struck by lightning. How then can we reconcile the death penalty with the demands of a Constitution that first and foremost insists upon a rule of law?

*   *   *

[N]early all death penalty States keep death row inmates in isolation for 22 or more hours per day….This occurs even though the ABA has suggested that death row inmates be housed in conditions similar to the general population, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for a global ban on solitary confinement longer than 15 days…  And it is well documented that such prolonged solitary confinement produces numerous deleterious harms. See, e.g., Haney, Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and “Supermax” Confinement, 49 Crime & Delinquency 124, 130 (2003) (cataloging studies finding that solitary confinement can cause prisoners to experience “anxiety, panic, rage, loss of control, paranoia, hallucinations, and self-mutilations,” among many other symptoms)

*   *   *

The dehumanizing effect of solitary confinement is aggravated by uncertainty as to whether a death sentence will in fact be carried out. In 1890, this Court recognized that, “when a prisoner sentenced by a court to death is confined in the penitentiary awaiting the execution of the sentence, one of the most horrible feelings to which he can be subjected during that time is the uncertainty during the whole of it.”… The Court was there describing a delay of a mere four weeks. In the past century and a quarter, little has changed in this respect— except for duration. Today we must describe delays measured, not in weeks, but in decades.

*   *   *

The second constitutional difficulty resulting from lengthy delays is that those delays undermine the death penalty’s penological rationale, perhaps irreparably so. The rationale for capital punishment, as for any punishment, classically rests upon society’s need to secure deter­rence, incapacitation, retribution, or rehabilitation. Capital punishment by definition does not rehabilitate. It does, of course, incapacitate the offender. But the major alternative to capital punishment—namely, life in prison without possibility of parole—also incapacitates.

*   *   *

Recently, the National Research Council (whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine) reviewed 30 years of empirical evidence and concluded that it was insufficient to establish a deterrent effect and thus should “not be used to inform” discussion about the deterrent value of the death penalty.

*   *   *

Sometimes the community believes that an execution could provide closure. Nevertheless, the delays and low probability of execution must play some role in any calculation that leads a community to insist on death as retribution. As I have already suggested, they may well attenuate the community’s interest in retribution to the point where it cannot by itself amount to a significant justification for the death penalty…. In any event, I believe that whatever interest in retribution might be served by the death penalty as currently administered, that interest can be served almost as well by a sentence of life in prison without parole (a sentence that every State now permits.

*   *   *

The upshot is that lengthy delays both aggravate the cruelty of the death penalty and undermine its jurisprudential rationale. And this Court has said that, if the death penalty does not fulfill the goals of deterrence or retribution, “it is nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering and hence an unconstitutional punishment.”

*   *   *

And that fact creates a dilemma: A death penalty sys­tem that seeks procedural fairness and reliability brings with it delays that severely aggravate the cruelty of capi­tal punishment and significantly undermine the rationale for imposing a sentence of death in the first place…(one of the primary causes of the delay is the States’ “failure to apply constitutionally sufficient procedures at the time of initial [conviction or] sentenc­ing”). But a death penalty system that minimizes delays would undermine the legal system’s efforts to secure relia­bility and procedural fairness.

In this world, or at least in this Nation, we can have a death penalty that at least arguably serves legitimate penological purposes or we can have a procedural system that at least arguably seeks reliability and fairness in the death penalty’s application. We cannot have both. And that simple fact, demonstrated convincingly over the past 40 years, strongly supports the claim that the death pen­alty violates the Eighth Amendment.

*   *   *
The Eighth Amendment forbids punishments that are cruel and unusual. Last year, in 2014, only seven States carried out an execution. Perhaps more importantly, in the last two decades, the imposition and implementation of the death penalty have increasingly become unusual.

*   *   *

[I]f we look to States, in more than 60% there is effectively no death penalty, in an additional 18% an execution is rare and unusual, and 6%, i.e., three States, account for 80% of all executions. If we look to population, about 66% of the Nation lives in a State that has not carried out an execution in the last three years. And if we look to counties, in 86% there is effectively no death penalty. It seems fair to say that it is now unusual to find capital punishment in the United States, at least when we consider the Nation as a whole.

*   *   *

I recognize a strong counterargument that favors consti­tutionality. We are a court. Why should we not leave the matter up to the people acting democratically through legislatures? The Constitution foresees a country that will make most important decisions democratically. Most nations that have abandoned the death penalty have done so through legislation, not judicial decision. And legisla­tors, unlike judges, are free to take account of matters such as monetary costs, which I do not claim are relevant here….

The answer is that the matters I have discussed, such as lack of reliability, the arbitrary application of a serious and irreversible punishment, individual suffering caused by long delays, and lack of penological purpose are quin­tessentially judicial matters. They concern the infliction— indeed the unfair, cruel, and unusual infliction—of a serious punishment upon an individual.

*   *   *

I believe it highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment. At the very least, the Court should call for full briefing on the basic question.

NEW EXONERATION: Quentin Carter


In 1992, a Michigan 10-year-old was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. The boyfriend then beat her with a cord until she agreed to accuse Quentin Carter of the rape. Carter was convicted based on her testimony. It wasn’t until the boyfriend was prosecuted for an unrelated murder that the investigators went back and re-interviewed the girl (who had gone back to the prosecution twice already to tell them Carter wasn’t the rapist), and her mother, both of whom confirmed that the boyfriend was the rapist. After almost 17 years, Mr. Carter was released LAST WEEK. Read the rest of his story here: http://bit.ly/1g8bzlg

Florida’s lethal-injection drug gets Supreme Court nod


June 29, 2015

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to uphold the use of a controversial drug in lethal-injection executions will have ramifications for the 395 people on Florida’s death row as well as on the upcoming execution of a man who killed four family members in Orlando in 1985.

Florida Supreme Court justices stayed the Feb. 26 execution of Jerry Correll pending the high court’s ruling over midazolam — the first drug administered during a three-step process to execute inmates in a handful of states, including Florida.

Monday’s decision prompted a motion from Florida officials state to lift the stay.

Executions in other states have raised concerns the sedative did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a comalike sleep. Correll’s attorneys argued that point in an emergency motion to delay his execution at least until the Supreme Court offered its opinion. A jury convicted their client of stabbing and killing his 5-year-old daughter, ex-wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

But Monday’s ruling just preserves the status quo in Florida and in the other 31 states that use capital punishment, said Orlando attorney Steven Laurence. It means midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

“The Florida Supreme Court acknowledged when they granted a stay that there has been some issues [with the drug], and they wanted to the U.S. Supreme Court to speak to that issue,” said Laurence, who’s been trying death-penalty cases at the state Supreme Court for more than a decade.

“Now they’ve spoken to that issue, and from the perspective of a Florida practitioner such as myself, it’s back to business as usual.”

Florida remains among the most active states using the death penalty, putting 16 people to death in the past three years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a national nonprofit research group.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed more death warrants than any other modern Florida governor in a single term.

The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty in seven cases this year, according to a spokeswoman. Defendants in those cases include Sanel Saint Simon, the Orange County man accused of beating his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter to death, and Bessman Okafor, the suspected mastermind behind a witness-execution plot.

This won’t be the last time a U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects Florida’s death penalty.

The high court agreed to hear in its next term a case called Hurst v. Florida, a challenge to the state’s procedure for determining a death sentence.

Florida is the only state that doesn’t require a unanimous jury to recommend death. Rather, a majority vote, after a special hearing on factors that could justify or mitigate the death penalty, will send a convict to death row.

A trial judge must either approve or reject that recommendation.

Laurence said this case has a better chance at affecting Florida’s procedures because the practice is an outlier among other states.

“It seems contrived that to find a person guilty of the death penalty requires a unanimity, but to actually execute them does not,” he said. “To me, that’s a much more compelling issue.”

In its ruling on Correll’s execution, Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote in the majority opinion that the stay was justified because the Oklahoma protocol under review by the U.S. Supreme Court is “virtually identical” to Florida’s process.

“Without the stay of execution in this case, Florida risks the unconstitutional execution of Correll, for which there is no remedy.”

Clarification came Monday in a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court as two dissenting justices said for the first time that they think it’s “highly likely” that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.

Justice Samuel Alito said arguments the drug could not be used effectively as a sedative in executions are speculative.

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, “Under the court’s new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.”

In a separate dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the time has come for the court to debate whether the death penalty itself is constitutional. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Rules that Midazolam Can be Used in Executions


June 29, 2015

The Supreme Court ruled today in Glossip v. Gross that the use of midazolam as part of lethal injection protocols is constitutional.

Midazolam is a sedative that—according to the petitioners—“cannot reliably ensure the ‘deep, comalike unconsciousness’ required where a State intends to cause death with painful drugs.’” A paralytic is then injected, making it impossible to tell if the prisoner is experiencing extreme pain upon administration of the final drug that stops the heart. This is where the argument of cruel and unusual punishment enters the debate.

Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty issued the following statement on today’s ruling:

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled that using a cocktail of illegal drugs, which has been proven to cause torture in the prisoners to whom it’s been administered, as a form of execution, is not ‘cruel or unusual’ punishment.

“It’s hard to imagine what could be crueler than a prolonged, torturous death, or more unusual, given that 80% of the executions in the United States last year took place in just 3 states.

“The death penalty is on the outs, with even conservative states like Nebraska outlawing the policy. Yet that message clearly hasn’t risen up to the highest Court in the land. That means our work is far from done.

“Death penalty opponents from all walks of life must recommit ourselves to ensuring that policymakers, attorneys and, yes, the Supreme Court understand America doesn’t want or need the death penalty any more. That’s exactly the goal of the 90 Million Strong campaign, and the reason we feel confident that one day, not one more American will be put to death by the government.”

The fact remains that the death penalty does not enhance public safety; every day it exists it risks executing the innocent and it perpetuates racial bias and unfairness in a way that takes our country backwards.

We must continue to join together to speak up and do the work necessary to make sure that this archaic, barbaric, wasteful and unfair practice is abolished.

Read the full decision at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-7955_aplc.pdf

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has created the 90 Million Strong Campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference.

Exonerated convict Glenn Ford succumbs to lung cancer at 65


June 29, 2015

Glenn Ford, who spent nearly 30 years on Angola’s death row for a murder that prosecutors eventually conceded he did not commit, died in New Orleans early Monday (June 29), supporters announced. He was 65.

Ford learned he had lung cancer shortly after his release from Angola on March 11, 2014. A news release from Ford’s supporters said he died at 2:11 a.m., having been “surrounded by friends, loved ones and family in recent days.”

Ford, who was born in Shreveport on Oct. 22, 1949, was convicted of the 1983 murder of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweler and watchmaker for whom Ford had done occasional yard work. Ford had always denied killing Rozeman, and on March 10, 2014, he was exonerated of the crime when the state vacated his conviction.

State District Judge Ramona Emanuel voided Ford’s conviction and sentence based on new information corroborating his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman’s death, Ford’s attorneys said.

Ford was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to death. He spent 29 years, three months and five days in solitary confinement on Angola’s death row. At the time of his release, Ford was the longest-serving death row inmate in the United States, supporters said.

The final 15 months of Ford’s life were spent outside prison walls but not without challenges.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office filed a petition to deny Ford state-mandated compensation for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment, arguing  Ford failed to meet the law’s “factually innocent” clause. The provision requires petitioners to have not committed the crime for which they were originally convicted as well as “any crime based upon the same set of facts” used in the original conviction.

First Judicial District Court Judge Katherine Clark Dorroh sided with Caldwell in a ruling three months ago, deciding Ford was aware of the plan to rob Rozeman and failed to stop it, and took and sold items stolen during the robbery. The judge also ruled Ford tried to find buyers for the weapon used in Rozeman’s murder, and that he tried to hinder the police investigation by initially giving a false name for the man he later identified as Rozeman’s killer.

Ford died while awaiting the outcome of separate federal lawsuits aimed at securing compensation for his imprisonment and failing health, which he claimed resulted from insufficient medical treatment while in prison. Supporters said all he had received from the state before his death was $20 for a bus ride home from prison.

Supporters said Ford is survived by “several children” who live in California, and “more than 10 grandchildren.”

A memorial service will be held at the Charbonnet Funeral Home at 1615 St. Philip St., but a date and time had not been immediately determined, supporters said. They asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Ford’s name to Resurrection After Exoneration at www.r-a-e.org.

Freed from death row, woman, 58, finds peace in forgiveness


june 29, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A woman freed after 16 years on Mississippi’s death row says God helped her come to peace with herself and the fact that until recently, her execution might come any time.

Michelle Byrom tells a local paper that she has forgiven her son and others she feels treated her wrongly. Her son, Edward Byrom Jr., testified against her but later allegedly confessed.

Byrom was convicted of getting her son to hire a hit man to kill her husband. The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a new trial in March.

She pleaded “no contest” Friday, asserting innocence but acknowledging prosecutors could probably convince a jury otherwise.

Byrom says that after the brief court hearing in Tishomingo County, she and her brother didn’t stop for lunch until they got to Tennessee.

The Green River Killer Moved To Colorado, But Why?


The Green River Killer was locked away in a Washington state prison for more than a decade, but that has changed. Serial killer Gary Ridgeway has reportedly been relocated to a maximum security facility in Colorado — approximately 1,300 miles away from where he was originally imprisoned. So why did authorities relocate this notorious murderer?

 

The Seattle Times reports that Ridgeway is now housed in a federal penitentiary which is located in Florence, Colorado. However, authorities refused to comment on why the killer was relocated to the maximum security prison, when he’s been stationary up in Washington state for so long. Spokesman Andrew Garber with the Department of Corrections gave a short and to-the-point response to media questions.

“The department constantly evaluates and reviews the overall safety and security of our operations, and makes decisions regarding the housing of offenders accordingly. The department does not comment about individual offenders and their circumstances.”

So for now it will remain unknown as to why the Green River Killer landed himself some new digs in a state more than 1,000 miles away from his home.

Gary Ridgeway became known worldwide as the Green River Killer when he confessed to the murders of at least 49 women across the country. His murderous appetite put him in the ranks of America’s most prolific serial killers, such as Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. All of his victims were prostitutes and women who lived their lives on the outer boundaries of society, but Ridgeway didn’t count on his victims also having loved ones who aggressively pushed for justice.

The Green River Killer not only admitted to killing numerous women to avoid the death penalty, but he’s reportedly tried to devote his time post-conviction to helping locate the bodies of all the missing people he allegedly killed. KOMO News reports that Ridgeway has claimed to have racked up at least 80 bodies, and he wants to prove that to authorities, and the world. He’s also expressed that this is his way of making right by his past, which he cannot change.

What do you think about the news of Ridgeway’s relocation to Colorado? Do you think it has anything to do with him assisting in the search for more of his victims? As The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway was active for many years as he picked off victims along the Green River. However, he also dumped bodies over state lines in order to throw off police who were investigating the murders. Does that mean he could have picked up victims in Colorado as well?

Human rights in America: claims and reality


29 JUNE 2015,

The concept of human rights means the ability of humans to exercise their subjective rights in the era of humanism and education, Milli.az reported. Main concept of human rights is that all human beings have equal rights and these rights apply to everyone without interpretation. Although it is supposed that human rights were first mentioned in Europe, exactly in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, passed in France in 1789, long before that the idea of human rights went through a remarkable development path, with human rights charters adopted in England and America. This is why the West, particularly the USA are considered “the cradle of democracy and human rights”, a role model for other countries. In some instances the West, especially the USA, abuse their position to exert pressure on other countries using “violation of democracy and human rights” as a pretext. But let`s look if the rights of people and citizens are perfectly protected in the West, including in America.

“Cradle” of democracy and human rights

One needs just to browse the Internet to see concrete evidence of the West`s poor human rights record. It is a fact that Europe is experiencing growing violation of rights of Muslims, with organizations engaged in anti-Islamic propaganda gathering pace. Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in 2011, is the product of these terrorist organizations. It should be noted that on July 22 Breivik shot dead 69 participants of a summer camp on the island of Utoya, and then declared that Islam should be fought with terror. He also killed eight people by setting off a van bomb in Oslo. As a result of a 12 week-long trial, Breivik was declared insane and got off with minor punishment. Muslims in Germany, Denmark, Belgium and France face similar law violations on a daily basis. As regards the United States, the country joined only three of nine major international human rights conventions. Racial discrimination, xenophobia, prison overcrowding, execution of the mentally impaired is typical of the American public and political system. The Americans have not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Searching for the enemy within”

The election of black Barack Obama as president boosted the U.S. police`s “search for the enemy within” and increased racial prejudice. Hundreds of people, who joined Occupy Wall Street protest movement against social and economic inequality, were arrested in New York City in 2011. Journalists covering the protests in Los-Angeles, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and other cities were also arrested, facing police brutality. Three UN reports underlined growing racial discrimination within law enforcement bodies in the U.S. The media are also frequently reporting of U.S. police violence against blacks and Latin Americans.

“I can`t breathe”

The aforementioned can be proved by an incident that happened on Staten Island, New York City, on July 17, 2014. According to The New York Times, on that day police officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Eric Garner, a 43 year old father of six, on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes. After a confrontation the officer wrestled Garner, an African American, to the ground, putting him in a chockhold. Lying facedown on the sidewalk, Garner was saying “I can’t breathe” multiple times. But officer Pantaleo disregarded the plea of Garner, who had asthma. The man was later pronounced dead. But the officer was not indicted. The last words of Eric Garner became the rallying cry for protests in New York City, Washington and other cities. But there was not proper response from the authorities: the case was delayed on different pretexts, and the grand jury refused to indict the policeman who killed an African American citizen of the USA. One of the black American politicians politicized the issue, saying “it is impossible to breathe in this country where human rights are violated”.

American police: “I will kill you”

Another proof that violation of human rights has become a common occurrence in the USA is the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18 year old black man, by police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. It was established that in the course of the incident the officer threatened to kill Brown before shooting him. Brown`s mother said the officer fired seven times at her son. The incident sparked protests staged by Ferguson residents, mostly African Americans, demanding the arrest and criminal indictment of the police officer. However a grand jury decided not to indict officer Wilson, provoking weeks-long protests and nationwide unrest. Hundreds of people involved in the protests were detained and subjected to police brutality and torture.

Journalists who became “criminals”

It should be emphasized that journalists covering Ferguson unrest were also tortured by police. The Washington Post and The Huffington Post reporters were detained by police without any reason and taken to the Ferguson police station. An Al-Jazeera reporter saw tear gas in front of him thrown by police when he was trying to go live on air. The reporters, who were soon released, later said they were more afraid of aggressive conduct of police rather than the protesters. Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly, a journalist of the Huffington Post, said they were using a McDonald restaurant as a staging area near demonstrations when police came into the café. Officers asked the reporters to show their press passes. Lowery showed his press pass, while Reilly refused, saying police were acting illegally. Lowery and Reilly were then taken to the back of a police car, and their equipment was seized.

“They take our lives for granted”

On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American, was arrested by the Baltimore police. Officers brutally beat the man to break his spinal cord. Gray was put in intensive care. He later died at the hospital. Gray`s death sparked mass protest rallies in Baltimore. Fearful of the growing unrest, the government imposed a curfew and deployed the Maryland National Guard to the city. A total of 210 people were detained, some 15 buildings were torched and 100 vehicles were destroyed during the Baltimore unrest. Charlie Walker, a black activist of the Baltimore protests, accused the U.S. law enforcement bodies of corruption, human rights violation and bribery. “Our struggle should not be throwing stones at police, robbing and setting a fire on shops, destroying cars. What we should do is to hit a blow to the power of dollar and stop paying money to corporations. This is the only thing they understand. Money is crucial for them. And they take our lives for granted. We were the slaves of these insects for 400 years. But they have not yet understood that we are not slaves any longer.”

Some 458 people murdered in a year

Apart from Brown and Gray, unarmed Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and others were shot dead during encounters with police officers because of their being black. In general, the death of unarmed Michael Brown, who was shot dead in Ferguson, provoked a strong wave of civil unrest. Last year alone 458 people were shot dead by police in the United States, spurring nationwide protests and arrests. Police`s brutal treatment of blacks is contaminating the minds of white people in the USA, encouraging them to violence. On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21 year old white man, shoot dead nine people, including three men and six women, at a church in Charleston. All those killed were blacks. Roof was detained and charged with murder on racial grounds and terrorism.

Religious intolerance in the United States has also reached its peak, with anti-Islamic prejudice gathering pace. On February 10, 2015, Craig Stephen Hicks shot dead Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23 year old student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. All three students were Muslims and were murdered on religious grounds. The incident was followed by an arson attack on an Islamic center in Texas.Application of laws is more severe when it comes to blacks

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Dr. Christian Christensen, a professor at Stockholm University, said police violence, racial discrimination has become widespread in the USA. “This has continued for decades. What we saw in Ferguson and Baltimore and nationwide protests is not people`s response just to the murder of two black men, it is a response to police violence, torture, racial discrimination that has continue for decades. Courts contribute considerably to this because the black defendants whose victims were white are two time more likely to receive a death penalty than white defendants whose victims were black. This has been so for more than 15 years. Laws, prohibitions are applied in a more severe manner when it comes to African Americans,” he added.

Illegal control over social networks

Reports analyzing the USA`s human rights record are telling the whole truth about it. UN Human Rights Committee accused the United States of breaching several provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Headed by Nigel Rodley, a British professor, the committee accused Washington of implementing an illegal control over social networks, describing it as direct interference in people`s private lives. The UN committee`s report revealed that the USA is controlling people`s activity in social networks not only in its own area, but also in different regions of the world to instill their ideology on people, exert pressure on and encourage them to violation of law. This spoils and puts at risk private lives of thousands of people. Countries and societies suffer hardships as a result of color revolutions. All these events are resulting in mass death, with countries torn by internal clashes. Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Libya are best examples.

Prison abuse

In its 2013 report, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China provided concrete evidence of human rights violations in the USA. The council said the US carried out drone strikes in Pakistan, causing deaths of up to 926 civilians. Even Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused Washington of breaching international law. The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation also accused the USA of violating human rights. The Foreign Ministry expressed its concern over violation of electoral rights, prison abuse, child abuse, trafficking in human beings, and other problems in the USA.

Helpless president
Although the U.S. is accusing other countries of violating democracy, human rights and freedom of speech, the country itself is experiencing widespread breach of universal values and norms. The USA is trampling on rights of migrants, religious minorities (especially Muslims). Racial discrimination is widespread in the country, accompanied by violence and death of a large number of people. Meanwhile, the USA`s first black president is watching helplessly what is happening in his country.