Once Merrick Garland announced he was opening an investigation into Minneapolis policing procedures, we knew it was only a matter of time before his investigation spread beyond that city. According to the Guardian, Garland has now opened an investigation into Louisville, KY’s procedures, stemming from the death of Breonna Taylor. Garland’s investigations are right on time, as the Guardian also reported that a human rights council has called for an inquiry into the deaths of Blacks in the U.S. at the hands of police.
At the time of her death, Breonna Taylor was only 26 years old. She was not a drug dealer or involved in criminal activity in any way. Indeed, she was the antithesis of that type of person. She wanted to help others and was working as an EMT while studying to be a nurse. A no-knock warrant relating to a former boyfriend and poorly executed by the Louisville Metro Police Department (“LMPD”) resulted in her death.
AG Garland hopes to determine whether LMPD has a history of unreasonable force; whether the officers conduct unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures; and whether the department illegally executes search warrants, all based on race. Garland is yet another breath of fresh air in the Biden administration. Even as he begins his work, however, a group of human rights experts is demanding that the international court prosecutor open an investigation into whether the U.S. violates human rights through the targeting of Blacks.
The report results from an investigation by the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Decent in the United States (the “Commission”). The Commission is comprised of human rights experts from 11 countries. The members determined that the U.S. must be held accountable for “a long history of violations of internal law” that they equate to “crimes against humanity.” To come to their conclusions, the Commission looked at what they call “police murder” and “severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution and other inhumane acts” that have been perpetrated by U.S. police departments. They have called for a Hague investigation, including prosecutions as applicable. When you think of all the Black people who have been killed by police, you must ask what is going on if it is not related to race.
I work on cases involving school disciplinary procedures, and you see the same assumption: Black is bad. In Gwinnett County, for example, Black children make up one-third of the school population; however, they account for over half of the disciplinary cases. The same is true in Alabama and Florida. Black people are not born criminals and should not be treated as such, especially at a young age. We are innocent until proven guilty just like everyone else.
Our prior administration could have cared less about this situation, but President Biden is taking it very seriously. Honestly, to have an international commission make these findings public is an embarrassment. Everyone looks to the U.S. to address humanitarian concerns elsewhere, but how can we reasonably do that if we are not addressing it here?
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years