Are UN blue helmets about to march down Elizabeth Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri? They would have to be sent by the UN Security Council where the U.S. has a veto, so that’s unlikely. But Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, the unarmed young man killed by a Ferguson police officer, is requesting UN intervention in the city.
Ferguson could be visited by UN Special Rapporteurs, official investigators who would examine what advocates see as the inherent racism in the police force in Ferguson. Depending on who’s telling the story, Brown was either hands-up trying to surrender or inside the police car pummeling the officer. If Michael Brown’s mother has her way, the UN will intervene sooner rather than later because next week, she’s traveling to Geneva, Switzerland, to complain to the UN Convention Against Torture about her son’s shooting and the militarized police response to the ensuing violence.
Over two days next week, the ten-member Committee Against Torture will grill the U.S. government about U.S. implementation of the treaty, which was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and received Senate consent in 1998. The treaty defines torture as the deliberate infliction of pain and suffering by a government official for the purpose of eliciting information or inflicting punishment.
McSpadden, who has been accused of robbing her own mother-in-law over t-shirt sales, is being sponsored by the U.S. Human Rights Network, a coalition of left-wing pressure groups, including the Women’s All Points Bulletin, Worker’s Center for Racial Justice, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Women of Color United, and dozens of others.
Organizers say Brown and his family have not received justice from the local, state, or federal government and that the trip to Geneva “is meant to make a case, to as wide an audience as possible, that both Brown’s killing and the militarized police response to protesters demanding justice for him, are a matter of human rights.”
According to Vice News, Justin Hansford, a law professor at the Jesuit-run Saint Louis University, who authored a “shadow report” to the torture committee, said, “It’s actually covered by article one of the convention against torture. When the government has all the guns, all the force, and when they can kill people with impunity and without fear of being found guilty of a crime, that’s a classic example of state violence.”
Hansford told Vice News, “You see this in dictatorships and regimes where they do this to their own citizens and they get away with it.” He compared the killing of Brown to the murder of Emmett Till and said Brown’s killing was similar to lynchings, “when black bodies were on display as a form of intimidation.”
Organizers have put up a website called Ferguson to Geneva, where they are asking for $11,000 to make the trip.
A verdict from the grand jury is expected in the coming days, and St. Louis is braced for widespread violence, as the grand jury is expected not to indict the officer. Businesses are boarding up, people are leaving town, police families are decamping for safer areas, and “Surviving civil unrest” memes are popping up on Facebook.