A report released August 19, 2021, claims to provide empirical evidence that federal law enforcement agencies engaged in discriminatory policing and prosecutorial conduct against people arrested during racial justice protests that erupted across the U.S. under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.
Produced by the Movement For Black Lives—M4BL—the report’s findings “largely corroborate what Black organizers have long known intellectually, intuitively, and from lived experience about the federal government’s disparate policing and prosecution of racial justice protests and related activity,” it says.
M4BL includes over 50 civil rights groups and Black professional associations. Its report was published in partnership with CLEAR, the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility clinic at City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.
The report shows how the federal government targeted BLM protestors “by using the criminal legal system to prevent people from protesting and punishing them for being engaged in protests by attempting to curtail their first amendment rights,” said M4BL policy research coordinator Amara Enyia.
Reviewing 326 criminal cases brought over alleged conduct during protests from May 31 to October 25, 2020, the report found that similar but less serious state charges were eschewed in 92.6 percent of them so that federal charges—and federal prosecutors—could follow “get tough with them” directives issued by former President Donald J. Trump (R) and his former attorney general, William P. Barr.
"We saw Barr overnight go from expressing some level of sympathy for racial justice protesters to labeling them as radical and violent agitators, with absolutely no basis for that sort of characterization,” noted CUNY law professor Ramzi Kassem, who is also CLEAR’s founding director.
He said the former Attorney General’s about-face was “very transparently aimed at disrupting a Black-led movement for social justice that was happening both spontaneously and in an organized fashion nationwide.”
Besides pushing for passage of proposed federal police reform known as the Breathe Act, M4BL also wants amnesty and reparations for protestors, as well as an apology from the government for going after movements “in support of Black life and Black liberation.”
Source: The Guardian
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