1,000 signatures reached
To: UN Human Rights Council, OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, US Secretary of State John Kerry
Demand UN Intervention Now: Stop the War on Black People!
Dear United Nations Human Rights Council, Organization of American States Commission on Human Rights, and Secretary of State John Kerry:
The epidemic of discriminatory violent policing and structural racism targeting Black and other communities of color has reached the level of a human rights crisis in the United States. Recently, Madison, WI Police Officer Matt Kenny tragically killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, fatally shooting him 5 times. And across the country, police are unjustly arresting, harassing, brutalizing and killing Black and brown people with little to no consequence.
The greater Madison, Wisconsin area, including all of Dane County, is home to some of the greatest racial disparities in the United States. The Black unemployment rate is 5 times higher than that of Whites, and 54% of Blacks live in poverty compared to 8.7% of Whites. Black people make up just 4.8% of Dane County's general population, but 44% of the new jail inmate population, the highest racial arrest disparity in the United States.
As such, I join the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition (YGB), Freedom, Inc. and their national partners in calling on the United Nations and the Organization of American States, through appropriate Committees, to launch dual independent investigations in Madison, WI:
1) An independent investigation into the death of Tony Robinson at the hands of Madison, WI police officer Matt Kenny;
2) An independent investigation into the persistent and systemic racial disparities and inequities in the greater Madison area (Dane County, Wisconsin), with particular focus on poverty rates and the ways in which the police are used as an occupying force in Black communities in order to maintain those inequities.
Why is this important?
Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown. Aiyana Jones. Eric Garner. Tanisha Anderson. John Crawford. Tarika Wilson. Tamir Rice. And now Tony Robinson.
Law enforcement and racist vigilantes are killing unarmed Black youth at an alarming rate--one every 28 hours (1)--and are getting away with it. Not only are officials in cities such as Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, and Beavercreek refusing to hold discriminatory and violent police accountable, the United States Department of Justice has failed to issue indictments for killer cops who take innocent lives (2). With nowhere else to turn, it is now up to us to take matters to the next level in order to stop the brutal killings of our families and loved ones.
On March 6, 2015, 19-year-old Tony Robinson was shot five times and killed by Officer Matt Kenny in a stairwell at a friend’s apartment. Tony’s friend called the police seeking help for his friend, who was allegedly jumping in and out of traffic. However, instead of helping him, Officer Kenny broke into the apartment and fatally shot him five times (3).
It was not the first time Kenny had killed (4).
This was not just the fault of a single ‘bad apple,’ it is part of a systemic problem in the greater Madison area, where Black people confront some of the highest rates of structural racism and inequity in the United States. According to the ground breaking Race to Equity report, the Black unemployment rate in Dane County, Wisconsin is 25.2%, compared to 4.8% for Whites and the median income for Blacks is less than ⅓ that of Whites (5).
Most alarming is the excessive policing of Black youth in the area, which fuels racially motivated incarceration in jails and prison. Black youth are 10% of the youth in Dane county, but almost 80% of all imprisoned adolescents. In addition, Black people are just 4.8% of adults in the County, but 44% of new jail inmates, the greatest racial incarceration disparity in the entire country (6).
Madison is America. Over the last year, a series of police killings of unarmed Black youth has been met by a series of non-indictments by local officials (7). And while some are calling for a federal investigation, the harsh reality is that we cannot rely on the feds to deliver justice. Justice Department investigations are led by the FBI, an organization with it’s own deep history of racial profiling and abuses of power that virtually never result in murder indictments(8). Law enforcement kill Black Americans at nearly the same rate as Jim Crow Era lynchings and the justice system is unable to keep our communities safe from state-sanctioned violence(9).
That’s why we are calling on the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) to launch an independent investigation into the murder of Tony Robinson and racial disparities in Madison, WI, particularly the way police are used as an occupying force in Black communities.
However, because they only go where they are wanted, the UN and OAS will only investigate if there is significant support for their intervention. We need your help to show the UN and OAS that we want and need an independent investigation into the death of Tony Robinson and the gross racial disparities in Madison, WI.
In the final campaign of his life, Malcolm X argued that “we need to expand the civil-rights struggle to a higher level — to the level of human rights,” and urged people to take the issue of oppression, exploitation, discrimination and police brutality to the United Nations. The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, Freedom, Inc. and want to pick up where Malcolm X left off. Join the fight for human rights by calling for an independent UN investigation.
1. “Operation Ghetto Storm” report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, 11-2014, http://www.operationghettostorm.org/uploads/1/9/1/1/19110795/new_all_14_11_04.pdf
2. “Why it's Impossible to Indict a Cop,” The Nation magazine, 11-24-2014, http://www.thenation.com/article/190937/why-its-impossible-indict-cop#
3- 4. “Will Wisc. stay peaceful after cop kills unarmed teen?” CBS News 03-08-2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tony-robinson-shooting-protests-unarmed-black-teen-wisconsin/
5-6. “Race to Equity Plenary Report,” Race to Equity 02-06-2015, http://racetoequity.net/dev/wp-content/uploads/Race-to-Equity-Plenary-Session-PDF.pdf
7. “Garner, Brown Decision Spark Calls for Grand Jury Reform,” U.S. News & World Report 12-12-2014, http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/12/12/after-eric-garner-michael-brown-decisions-calls-for-grand-jury-reform
8. “The FBI COINTELPRO Program and The Fred Hampton Assassination,” The Huffington Post 12-03-2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/g-flint-taylor/the-fbi-cointelpro-progra_b_4375527.html
9. “Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up” The Guardian 08-25-2014, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/25/mike-brown-shooting-jim-crow-lynchings-in-common
How it will be delivered
Petitions will be delivered in person to the appropriate United Nations office in New York City, as well as via email to offices in Geneva, Switzerland and the Organization of American States office in Washington, DC. There will also be a press conference.