Sunday, July 15, 2001
Amnesty may offer help
U.S. board holds forum while meeting in Cincinnati
By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Amnesty International USA, in Cincinnati for its quarterly board meeting, may offer its human rights experience to improve the strained relationship between police and the black community here.
The London-based international human rights group held a community forum, Police Brutality and Cincinnati: Accountability to Human Rights Standards, at Mike Fink's Restaurant in Covington on Saturday night.
We would be very interested in being part of the solution if there is a role for us to play, said Nancy J. Bothne, the Midwest regional director for Amnesty.
Scotty Johnson (left), president of the Sentinel Police Association, talks Saturday with Leroy Staples (center) and Diego Zavala Zegarra about police-community issues. Mr. Zavala is on the board of directors of Amnesty International, which sponsored a forum in Covington on police brutality. |
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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Police brutality and excessive force have been central themes of Amnesty's campaign against human rights violations in the United States since 1998, she said.
Amnesty is working to end alleged police brutality in Chicago, Detroit and Prince George's County, Maryland, said David Yu, Amnesty International USA board liaison.
In Detroit, Amnesty developed a set of recommendations that were shared with the Justice Department, police, the mayor and others, Ms. Bothne said. The group's researcher from London also visited the city to gather data.
So far, Amnesty has limited its response to alleged police brutality in Cincinnati to sending a letter to Mayor Charlie Luken. Amnesty officials wouldn't disclose the contents of the letter, which they plan to deliver to City Hall this week. Amnesty's 18-member board is in Cincinnati through Monday.
The group had planned to meet in Cincinnati before April's violent protests, said outgoing board member Bert B. Lockwood. Mr. Lockwood, director of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at the University of Cincinnati Law School, hosted the group.
More than 60 people attended Saturday night's fo rum, including many of the two dozen active Amnesty members who live in the area.
Amnesty International USA wants to point out that police brutality is an international human rights violation prohibited in the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Ms. Bothne said.
So the U.S. government has an obligation to live up to the terms of the treaty and counsel local governments on how to do that.
Scotty Johnson, president of the Sentinel Police Association, told Amnesty members at Saturday's forum that officers don't respect blacks and poor whites during police runs.
Racial profiling is alive and well in Cincinnati, said Mr. Johnson, a plainclothes officer assigned to the robbery unit in District 1, which includes Over-the-Rhine.
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