The surviving family members of 165 victims of police violence are calling on the United Nations to launch an independent inquiry into law enforcement’s murder of Black people in the United States.
The formal request came on Monday, according to the Guardian, when victims’ relatives addressed a letter to the UN high commissioner for human rights, with the support of civil rights groups like the ACLU. The family members of George Floyd signed onto the letter, as well as those of Michael Brown and Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old man who was fatally shot by Minnesota police just last month.
It isn’t the first such letter to be directed to the UN: In June 2020, when Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country, the families of Floyd and Brown signed onto a joint letter making similar demands of the international organization.
“I want people across the world and the leaders in the United Nations to see the video of my brother George Floyd, to listen to his cry for help, and I want them to answer his cry,” Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said in a statement at the time. “I appeal to the United Nations to help him. Help me. Help us. Help Black men and women in America.”
The letter also specified that the UN should look into allegations related to police’s “excessive use of force” against protesters and journalists during the uprising spurred by Floyd’s death. In July, the UN human rights panel reminded the U.S. that law enforcement has an obligation to facilitate peaceful protests: “A failure to respect and ensure the right of peaceful assembly is typically a marker of repression,” the body stated in its findings on U.S. police officers tactics.
But the Trump administration bristled at these interventions from the UN, and families’ attempts to call on the institution failed, the Guardian reports. This time—with a new administration installed—family members and their allies are hoping for a better result.
“Police violence is not a uniquely American problem, but the impunity and disproportionate killing of Black, Brown and Indigenous people at the hands of law enforcement are,” said Jamil Dakwar, the director of the ACLU’s human rights program. “It requires the entire international community to act.”