WASHINGTON • Delegations of American civil rights officials and activists are in Geneva, Switzerland this week for a United Nations conference on racial equality, and the shooting death of Michael Brown that has so consumed U.S. airwaves is reverberating there, too.
"Clearly this issue is resonating here ... and they knew about it before we got here," said Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau. The story "continues to run in circulation over and over again (on Geneva television). The world is watching what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri."
The United States last year submitted a report on the nation's actions to fight discrimination to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The report, issued last year, opens:
"The United States has always been a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society, and its pluralism is increasing. We have made great strides over the years in overcoming the legacies of slavery, racism, ethnic intolerance, and destructive laws, policies, and practices relating to members of racial and ethnic minorities. Indeed, fifty years ago, the idea of having a Black/African American President of the United States would not have seemed possible; today, it is a reality. We recognize, however, that the path toward racial equality has been uneven, racial and ethnic discrimination still persists, and much work remains to meet our goal of ensuring equality for all."
The report is being reviewed this week by the international investigators attached to the International Convention.
Here is what the report says about policing in the U.S.:
"The Administration aggressively enforces laws against police brutality and discriminatory policing. (The Department of Justice) investigates police departments, prisons and other institutions to ensure compliance with the law and brings legal action where necessary against both institutions and individuals. DOJ has convicted 254 such defendants for violating the civil rights laws between FY 2009 and FY 2012, a 13.4% increase from the number convicted in the previous four years."
Several civil rights groups have presented a "shadow report" that is tougher on U.S. efforts to combat racial discrimination. The NAACP's Shelton, along with representatives of the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law were among those presenting it.
The report says: While strides have been made in the areas of police misconduct and brutality, federal, state, and local police continue to use force disproportionately, and, in particular, more deadly force, against individuals and commmunities of color