BALTIMORE - As protests over police brutality have erupted across the country and around the world following the death of George Floyd, the NAACP is calling on the United Nations to hold the U.S. government accountable.
“The NAACP is calling on the United Nations to step up and classify the mistreatment of black people in the U.S. by police as a human rights violation, aggressively call out the U.S. government in the process, and impose sanctions if necessary,” the organization said this week in a statement.
Sanctions are meant to be a last resort when it comes to addressing massive human rights violations, according to the United Nations.
The NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots civil rights organization, has also called for sweeping police reform in response to Floyd’s death, as well as the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others “at the hands of current or former law enforcement officers.”
The NAACP has called for federal legislation mandating a “zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent and non-resisting individuals in an arrest.”
Floyd died May 25 after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. The moment was captured on widely-shared bystander video — setting off protests across the U.S.
“For too long, law enforcement and the criminal justice system at large has racially profiled, arrested, convicted, and sentenced African Americans more harshly than the rest of America,” the NAACP said. “As George Floyd’s killing tragically demonstrates, any interaction between an African American and law enforcement can instantaneously become deadly.”
Around the world, there has also been growing outrage over Floyd's death, racial injustice and heavy-handed police tactics. Several thousand people defied a coronavirus-related ban on protests in Paris on Tuesday to pay homage to Floyd and Adama Traore, a French black man who died in police custody.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Floyd's death was the result of an abuse of power and that the 27-nation bloc is "shocked and appalled" by it.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said peaceful protests in the U.S. following Floyd’s death are “understandable and more than legitimate.”
“I can only express my hope that the peaceful protests do not continue to lead to violence, but even more express the hope that these protests have an effect in the United States,” Maas said.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, the NAACP is also demanding a ban on the use of knee holds and choke holds as an acceptable practice for police officers. It wants to ensure that each state’s officer misconduct information and disciplinary files are not shielded from the public, and that citizen review boards are implemented “to hold police departments accountable and build public confidence.”
“The anger and frustration we feel at this moment must be channeled into working towards a better future for us and for future generations to come,” the NAACP said. “For too long we have marched, we have protested, and we have mourned our lost ones as the world and our allies watched on. It’s time to stop watching and take action.”
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.