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article imageMom of slain Ferguson youth taking case to the UN Committee

By Holly L. Walters     Nov 5, 2014 in Politics
When an event such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri gets media attention, it gets that attention all over the world.
People from London to Sydney are given a media's perspective on what happens, and they are allowed to make their own judgments. But now the parents of Michael Brown have decided that the international media stage is not enough. They are taking their case to the United Nations.
Michael Brown's mother and father, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr., are using a website called to raise funds to fly to Geneva and speak before the U.N.'s Committee Against Torture.
African American writer Allen B. West asks why this kind of move is even necessary and wonders what the Brown family hopes to accomplish. It is a question that resonates with the families of police officers who have watched their loved ones get gunned down by street criminals, but with no response from the American people.
The choice to speak before the U.N.'s Committee Against Torture is probably not a random decision. The United Nations has recently turned up the heat on President Obama to release the report on CIA torture, a document relating to the treatment of prisoners taken since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
When President Obama ran for office in 2008, he promised to close the facility at Guantanamo Bay, which is where critics such as ArchBishop Desmond TuTu believe that the United States has used torture on prisoners. The facility is still operating and President Obama has, to this point, stalled the release of those documents. With the United Nations looking in the direction of the United States, the Brown family is hoping to get a sympathetic ear.
So why the United Nations? The Brown's say that they want to unite the world in a cause against police violence and stop the sort of activities that have taken place in Ferguson. According to the Browns, police violence against citizens in the United States has become a human rights issue. But the attention brought on the situation has also made it a racial issue, which is something the United Nations may or may not consider relevant.
The fate of Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, is still being decided by a grand jury. The general feeling in Ferguson, and around the United States, is that the evidence suggests that Wilson acted in self-defense. Along with the gunpowder found on Michael Brown's hand (indicating that he had his hand on the officer's gun when it was fired), there is also the video of Brown assaulting a store clerk just moments before his confrontation with Officer Wilson.
Many argue that Michael Brown used his size (6'4" tall and 300 pounds) to intimidate people and that he was assaulting the officer when the officer shot him. Eyewitnesses to the shooting are saying otherwise. Some eyewitnesses insist that Brown was on his knees with his hands in the air when he was shot.
It is unclear as to what the Browns hope to accomplish in Geneva. The United Nations does not have any authority to influence the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, and pleading their case to the United Nations does not guarantee that the international body will take any action at all.
In reality, speaking before the United Nations' Committee Against Torture may prove to be a fruitless effort. But the Browns believe that bringing attention to police brutality in the United States is important enough to speak before the U.N.
The Ferguson ordeal is a tragic and horrible situation, and it appears that the family of Michael Brown will go to every corner of the globe to try and get what they feel is justice for their son.
More about michael brown, President obama, report on CIA torture, darren wilson, Ferguson
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