The stifling of protest around the world paves the road for authoritarian rule
As the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by a former Minneapolis police officer passes this week, we continue to contend with relentless violence by law enforcement against people of color and other marginalized communities. Since that tragic loss, law enforcement in the United States have killed 181 Black people – a disproportionate rate compared to other groups.
And, globally, law enforcement officers also continue to engage in rampant violence against civilians, which is frequently directed at members of societal groups that have endured historic discrimination. However, another deeply disturbing reality that has emerged is the brutal crackdown on police accountability protests and protesters worldwide, who, following Floyd’s killing, united their voices against racial injustice to a level not seen since the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s. As dangerous as police violence has been for Black communities and other marginalized groups across the world, the stifling of protest and betrayal of protesters poses a particularly nefarious global threat, with devastating civil and human rights consequences if left unchecked.
Floyd’s murder served as a catalyst for unprecedented national and international protests against police violence. These protests responded to a global rise of white supremacy and anti-Black racism in policing, which has resulted in egregious violations of Black people’s human and civil rights. Indeed, a recently published report from the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the US lambasted the US government for violating international human rights obligations in its permissiveness – in policy and practice – of police abuse of Black people.
Of course, while highly visible in America, police violence is not a phenomenon unique to the US. Many other countries’ law enforcement officials also inflict substantial violence against people of color and historically marginalized communities. 2020’s summer of protests reflected a collective boiling point of intolerance for this violence.