Copy of Edward Snowdens Asylum Application in Moscow

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  • Human Rights Lawyer

    The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of black teen Trayvon Martin has put the spotlight on issues such as race crime, racial profiling and justice under the law in the US.

    The 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman who is white and Hispanic shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. He claimed that he shot the unarmed Martin in self-defense. But the case was soon imbued with racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman. They initially said they found no evidence contradicting the self-defense claim.

    This belief has gained even more support among many Americans, mostly African Americans, now that a jury of six women has cleared Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in Trayvon’s death, saying that he justifiably killed the black teenager as he believed his life was in imminent danger.

    Reacting to the verdict, civil rights activist, Al Sharpton said Zimmerman’s acquittal was an “atrocity,” and “a slap in the face to the American people.”

    Racial implications of the case even clouded jury selection. New Pittsburgh Courier has reported that “While the court did not release the racial makeup of the jury, the panel appeared to reporters covering jury selection to be made up of five White women and a sixth who may be Hispanic.”

    According to a study titled “Operation Ghetto Storm” conducted by The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and released in July 2012 “Every 28 hours, someone inside the United States, employed or protected by the US government kills a Black child, woman or man.”

    The organization initially recorded around 120 killings between January 1 – June 30, 2012, signifying that one black person was murdered every 36 hours. That number however rose to 313 by the end of the year, forcing the MXGM to update its findings to every 28 hours in their later report.

    According to “Every Thirty-six Hours,” “A human rights crisis confronts Black people in the United States. Since January 1, 2012, police and a much smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes have murdered at least 120 Black women and men. These killings are definitely not accidental or random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops. As we noted in our April 6th, 2012 “Trayvon Martin is All of US!” Report, the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into to the very fabric of the society.”

    The report adds that of the 120 lives taken:
    • 13 or 11% were children under 18 years old.
    • 22 or 18% were 18-21 years old, just entering adulthood.
    • 48 or 40% were 22-31 years old.
    • 20 or 17% were 32-41 years old
    • 10 or 8% were 42-51 years old
    • 5 or 4% were over 52 years
    • 2 or 2% were of undetermined age.

    These killings continue across the US and “in rural towns and large metropolitan areas … Like in the years of lynching, there is no geographic sanctuary.”

    The updated edition “Operation Ghetto Storm” concludes that African-Americans are now being killed at a faster rate of one every twenty-eight hours by some representative of the state or a paramilitary vigilante.

    “What Operation Ghetto Storm reveals is that the practice of executing Black people without pretense of a trial, jury, or judge is an integral part of the government’s current overall strategy of containing the Black community in a state of perpetual colonial subjugation and exploitation,” writes Kali Akuno, National Coordinator of MXGM, in the introduction to the report.

    Other reports show a similar trend revealing that US laws make it easy for blacks to be killed without anyone being found guilty of murder.

    According to an article written by John Roman and Mitchell Downey titled “Stand Your Ground Laws and Miscarriages of Justice” they shed light on the so-called “justified” homicides which seems to be the killings of black people by whites.

    “We then looked for a scenario where homicides are justified more than half the time. It turns out that the scenario with the highest probability of being a justified homicide is much like the Martin case – a single, White civilian handgun shooter who is a stranger to (and older than) the Black victim. But even then, the shooting is found to be justified less than half the time.”

    The imprisonment rates by race in the US show there is a big disparity between people of color and white people.

    “In 2011, blacks and Hispanics were imprisoned at higher rates than whites in all age groups for both male and female inmates. Among prisoners ages 18 to 19, black males were imprisoned at more than 9 times the rate of white males. In 2011, Hispanic and black male prisoners age 65 or older were imprisoned at rates between 3 and 5 times those of white males.”

    A report by the Wall Street Journal finds that prison sentences of black men were nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes in recent years.

    A study by The Washington Post confirms gun deaths in the United States are deeply shaped by race. “Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else. The statistical difference is dramatic, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun; for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.”

    African Americans make up slightly more than half the population of Washington, D.C., but they account for nearly 80 percent of arrests in the city, and 90 percent of drug arrests, says a new report by a group of civil rights lawyers.

    According to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, arrest statistics from 2009 through 2011 reveal a “remarkable disparity” between the number of arrests of whites and blacks in D.C.

    Some key finds of the report are as follows:
    • More than eight out of 10 arrests in our city were of African Americans
    • Wards with more African American residents witnessed far more arrests
    • More than 19 out of 20 arrests in Washington, D.C. were for nonviolent offenses
    • Nine out of 10 individuals arrested for drug offenses were African American
    • Wards with a high percentage of African American residents accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of all drug arrests
    • Nearly seven out of 10 traffic arrests were of African Americans
    • Eight out of ten individuals arrested for disorderly conduct were African American or Hispanic

    Such reports have an eye-opening message. Those recent US laws, especially the controversial “Stand Your Ground,” have made it easy for African Americans and other minorities to fall the victim to gun violence without anyone being found guilty of their death. Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of Zimmerman and the ensuing instantaneous protests across the US have polarized the nation along racial lines. Opponents of Stand Your Ground laws say the laws have become a license to kill rather than a protective measure with many others say that they lead to a miscarriage of justice.

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