Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 3, 2020

Police shot, blinded and beat news reporters and peaceful protesters at rallies demanding justice for George Floyd

Police shot, blinded and beat news reporters and peaceful protesters at rallies demanding justice for George Floyd

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
June 3, 2020

News reporters and peaceful protesters were shot, blinded, beaten and gassed by militarized police across the United States, during the rallies for justice of Black Lives Matter, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The media was targeted, shot with rubber bullets and punched, including an Australian news team outside the White House. This happened as peaceful protesters were fired on with projectiles and gassed so that Trump could walk across to a church and hold a Bible for a photo op.

Trump's rhetoric of hatred has fueled white supremacists across the United States, now attacking the media and peaceful protesters. Police have targeted and attacked journalists more than 128 times since May 28, reports Neiman Lab.

For Lakotas, a repeat of police terror

For Lakota defending the water from the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017, the police abuse is a repeat of the terror by militarized police from across the United States. Minnesota's Hennepin County Sheriff's officers were among those who brutalized the water defenders.

In Oct. 2016, Hennepin County Sheriff's officers used batons to beat peaceful Native American protesters and their allies at Standing Rock in North Dakota. They were part of the militarized police force brought in by the National Sheriff's Association, the state of North Dakota and Morton County. Minneapolis is located in Hennepin County.
Read more

Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Lakota in South Dakota, said today, "People seemed shocked that police are targeting journalists yet this scenario was practiced and honed during the Dakota Access fight in Standing Rock."

"We warned the world then that what they did to us, including targeting reporters and medics, militarized police would do the same to the rest of America."

"It's ironic that the people are rising up for Black lives matter and an end to excessive police violence but are being met with said violence. The first amendment guarantees free speech, the right to peacefully assemble, and free press. These acts of suppression should worry every American citizen," Braun told Censored News.

Dine' Michelle Cook: Divest all militarized policing

Dine' lawyer Michelle Cook said today, "We must defund the police, and divest all militarized policing of social justice movements around the world. We must divest militarization and this abuse of power. The incorrect and excessive use of 'less-lethal' weapons is lethal, and is endangering the lives of those exercising their first amendment rights against law enforcement's murderous misconduct against Black relatives and people of color," Cook told Censored News.

Cook organized a delegation of Native American women from the Navajo Nation and Ponca Nation who testified on the violence and abuse by militarized police at Standing Rock in North Dakota 2016--2017, before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in Jamaica in 2019. The delegation included Ofelia Rivas, who testified on the ongoing militarization and abuse by U.S. Homeland Security's Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona.

Speaking today of the shots fired at news reporters and protesters across the United States, Cook said "Shots in the face and head is outright illegal use according to the UN."
"The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published the first international guidelines on the matter, the United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement. The UN advises to limit the use of less-lethal weapons to the last resort solution and to encourage in its place tactics of de-escalation of violence, avoiding panic and confusion. Shots to the face and upper body constitute an illegal use of these weapons."

In Chile, police targeted journalists and protesters, shot their eyes and blinded them.

Photo: Members of the New Mexico Civil Guard near UNM campus late Monday night, 6/1/20.
HANNAH COLTON / KUNM Armed militia group alarms BLM protesters

Armed white militia stalking the Red Nation in Albuquerque

Melanie Yazzie of The Red Nation in Albuquerque said their group was followed and confronted by armed white militia known as New Mexico Civil Guard.

Yazzie said, "White fascists calling themselves the New Mexico Civil Guard rolled up on The Red Nation as we were returning to our office on Central Ave around 10 pm from the Black Lives Matter action. They attempted to pull a gun on us, claiming they were protecting private property and thought we were breaking into our own office."

"Many of us were aware of these assholes throughout the night, walking at the outskirts of the crowd surveilling people. Three of them were clearly tracking Native people during the march and had pinpointed us as targets once the crowd dispersed and it was easier to attack us in small groups under the cover of darkness."

"I have no doubt that others in their group were tracking Black folks and organizers in the crowd, as well."

"Their group was posted up a block away from our office. After we confronted the three scouts who came at us in front of our office, the same three who were tracking us all night in the crowd, they retreated to their group because they were outnumbered, there were about 25 of us at that point, and realized we don't fuck around."

"The Red Nation comrades who stayed at the office all night told us that these men had walked by at least once. They knew who we were, they knew the office belonged to us, and they knew we were Native. They were gunning to attack us all night. We ended up having to lock ourselves in our office for two hours with the lights off after returning to make sure they couldn't get in or invite other white supremacists to join outside our space."

"It is clear they were using the excuse of protecting private property to attack and/or shoot us with impunity."

"I am sharing this so that other Black, Indigenous, migrant, and refugee organizations in the city--especially if you have a physical space--know about these fuckers and take measures to protect yourself as the uprisings continue to unfold here in Albuquerque."

"Either way, know that The Red Nation has the backs of Black, Indigenous, colonized, and oppressed relatives and will throw down for y'all until we achieve liberation for all."

"Stay safe, y'all," Yazzie said.

The Albuquerque Police Department now admits police officers met with an outside group, after a video was posted on social media.

"It has come to our attention that a couple of our officers met with a group as they prepared to attend Monday’s protest. This was not a Department-sanctioned contact, and we are investigating the incident."

This video exposed the white militia meeting with Albuquerque police, before the Black Lives Matter protest in Albuquerque.

On Wednesday in Gallup, New Mexico -- the bordertown to the Navajo Nation whose economy thrives on sales to Navajos -- armed men were photographed on rooftops and in front of businesses. Black Lives Matter held a peaceful march in Gallup on Wednesday.

Quintanas Music Center posted this photo on June 1 on Facebook and said, "I'm seeing that these rioters have been shutting down highway and attacking cars. Lets make this clear.... if you shut down the highway and start causing or attempting to cause harm to my property or the lives of my family it will be met with lethal force no questions asked.

The 'True Patriot Foundation' had called out for others to join them in Gallup. The New Mexico Civil Guard said it would be there.

Nationwide,  news reporters targeted, shot, blinded and gassed by police

Police threw tear gas canisters into crowds of protesters demonstrating against police violence in cities across the country this weekend. Outside the Allen County Courthouse in Fort Wayne, Indiana, one of those canisters hit 21-year-old Balin Brake, a weekend editor at a local television station, rupturing his eye. Read more.

Balin Brake

"To anybody curious. My eye ruptured when a FWPD Officer unnecessarily and improperly fired a tear gas canister at my head hitting my eye. I’ll be fine but I’m probably losing my eye after surgery tomorrow," Brake said.

Linda Tirado

On Friday night, photojournalist Linda Tirado was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet while covering an anti-police brutality protest in Minneapolis — one of more than two dozen incidents of journalists experiencing violence while covering the recent demonstrations, Vox News reports.

Tirado says she’s permanently blind in her left eye.

Ali Velshi and his MSNBC camera crew were shot at by Minneapolis police live on the air while covering a peaceful protest. Two members of a Reuters TV camera crew were hit by rubber bullets in Minneapolis Saturday.

Reporter and photojournalist Sarah Belle Lin was hit in the thigh by a rubber bullet fired by police while covering protests in Oakland, California, Saturday evening. CBS News reporter Michael George reported that police in Minneapolis fired rubber bullets at his crew, striking sound engineer John Marschitz in the arm.

A journalist is seen bleeding after police started firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds near the Fifth Police Precinct in Minneapolis, on May 30.
 Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported that Minnesota State Patrol troopers fired tear gas at reporters and camera crews in Minneapolis SaturdayOn Rodeo Drive in Santa Monica, California, an ABC7 reporter and his crew were hit with tear gas Saturday.

Several Detroit Free Press reporters were pepper-sprayed by Detroit police Saturday, including one who held up a press badge while police targeted him. KSTP reporter Ryan Raiche was with a group of media in Minneapolis before they were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by police Saturday.

VICE News correspondent Michael Adams reported that police raided a gas station where several members of the press were taking shelter. He said police threw him to the ground and pepper-sprayed him.

On Friday morning, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew were arrested live on the air in Minneapolis. Watch video and read more at Vox.

NBC News' Jo Ling Kent hit by flashbang grenade at Seattle protest
Watch news video

NBC reporter Jo King Kent hit by flashbang in Seattle.
Unicorn Riot, independent media reporting live from Minneapolis, said, "Minneapolis business owner Louis Hunter was standing in front of his business Saturday night when State Troopers assaulted him and our team in efforts to enforce a city-wide curfew. The 8 p.m. curfew was issued Friday evening following days of protests and riots near Hunter’s business."

Native American and black women targeted by violent police

In Spokane, Washington, Native Drea Rose was the victim of police brutality.

Miami Herald reports that Fort Lauderdale police cracked the skull of a young woman who was peacefully protesting.

LaToya Ratlieff
"LaToya Ratlieff was stumbling away from a cloud of tear gas in downtown Fort Lauderdale Sunday — choking, coughing and trying not to vomit — when a police officer shot a foam rubber bullet at her head.

"The round, traveling more than twice the speed of a Major League fastball, smashed into her face just above the right eye, opening up a bloody gash. The impact brought Ratlieff, who was attending an anti-police brutality protest, to her knees. Her eye started to swell shut. Her eye socket was fractured, her medical records show. The projectile that likely struck her, known as a foam baton, has roughly the hardness of a racquetball and is fired from a rifle-barreled launcher. Foam batons are considered a lethal munition when aimed at the head, according to the manufacturer’s manual."
An Austin, Texas, teen remains hospitalized after he was shot in the face by police at weekend protests.

"Video posted on social media shows 16-year-old Brad Levi Ayala shot in the head with what police are calling 'bean bag ammunition.; In the video he's standing still and alone on a hill in a blue shirt and khaki pants. In the bottom right-hand corner of the video you can see a uniformed officer raise something to his face, there's a loud crack and you see the young man instantly go limp before the officer's arms go back down." Read article.

In Atlanta, Georgia, six police officers have been charged after forcefully pulling two college students out of a car.

With excessive force, the police smashed the windows and used a stun gun in the course of an arrest as protests continued nearby, a prosecutor announced Tuesday. Read article.

Australia asked for an investigation into the U.S. police attack on Australian news reporters outside the White House, who were shot with rubber bullets and punched in an attack by U.S. police.

Foreign reporters Amelia Brace and Tim Myers with Australia’s 7NEWS were in the crowd covering the demonstration live on air when officers suddenly began to violently disperse the protesters to make room for President Donald Trump’s photo op in front of a nearby church.

In the live video footage of the scene, Brace, standing off-camera, tells her anchors back home that she and her camera operator Tim Myers had just been shot at with rubber bullets while trying to flee from the approaching officers, and that Myers had been hit. As she’s saying this, the crowd starts to run again: “Here we go, they’re moving through again!” she says, as officers in riot gear rush at the protesters.

As she’s describing the scene, an officer appears right in front of the camera, and seems to punch Myers in the face with his fist as Brace shouts “Media!” The camera drops to the ground and goes black for a few seconds as the anchors back in Australia shout, “Whoa!” Read article.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota of Department of Human Rights is filing a commissioner's charge of discrimination to launch a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department."

"The investigation will review MPD's policies, procedures and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color." Read article.

Breaking news today: ACLU files suit over attacks on journalists in Minnesota -- More:

In Syria, Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun said they painted the mural to memorialize Floyd. 

British urge halt to sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to U.S.

The Independent in the U.K. reports that the government is being urged to suspend the sales of British tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to the United States amid fears they are being used against civil rights protesters.

"The US has been rocked by angry demonstrations for nearly a week following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died pleading for air while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for eight minutes," the Independent reports.

Amnesty International said the U.S. must end a militarized response with excessive force and issued the following statement:

Heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons ‘more appropriate for a battlefield’ used by police

Federal government should set up commission to investigate policing crisis

By Amnesty International

‘Racism and white supremacy are fuelling these killings and the police response to the protests’ - Rachel Ward

Reacting to heavy-handed, militarised policing in response to protests in several US cities this weekend following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, Rachel Ward, National Director of Research at Amnesty International USA, said: “In city after city, we are witnessing actions that could be considered unnecessary or excessive force.

“Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable.

“US police across the country are failing their obligations under international law to respect and facilitate the right to peaceful protest, exacerbating a tense situation and endangering the lives of protesters.

“Police must engage in de-escalation before the situation worsens.”

A police officer who was sacked following footage showing him pinning George Floyd to the floor with his knee despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe, has - after a delay of several days - now been arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder.

Rachel Ward added, "Racism and white supremacy are fuelling these killings and the police response to the protests."

“President Trump must end his violent and discriminatory rhetoric and policies, and the US government - at all levels - must ensure the right to protest as guaranteed by international law.”

Heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons

Police use of heavy-duty riot gear and military-grade weapons and equipment to patrol largely peaceful demonstrations may intimidate protesters who are practising their right to peaceful assembly. These tactics can lead to an escalation in violence.

Rachel Ward said, “The police must de-militarise their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organizers to reduce tensions and prevent violence, or to stop it as soon as it breaks out, to protect the right to peaceful assembly.

“All unnecessary or excessive force must cease immediately, and all instances of potentially excessive or unnecessary force against protesters must be investigated. Any officers who broke the law must be held accountable.”

Urgent action needed to stop police killings

Amnesty is urging the federal government and US cities and states to act swiftly and meaningfully to address the root cause of these protests and take immediate measures to stop unlawful killings of black people and others by police, including:

Officers must be prosecuted;

All US states must pass laws to restrict the use of lethal force as a last resort to prevent an imminent threat to life;

Congress should pass the PEACE Act to create a federal standard and incentivize state reform; and
The federal government should set up a national commission to address all aspects of this crisis including killings by police, the right to protest and ending discrimination.

Photo by Ryan Vizzions.
Minnesota's Hennepin County Sheriff's officers were in the militarized police force that attacked and beat Standing Rock water protectors in October, 2016.

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