Human rights record of the United States
Updated: 2016-04-15 08:09
Racial Discrimination Worse Than Ever
In 2015, racial relations in the United States kept deteriorating.
Law enforcement and justice fields were heavily influenced by racial discrimination, and race-based hate crimes occurred occasionally. Anti-Muslim remarks caused a great clamor, and minority races were unable to change their vulnerable status in economic and social lives.
Americans' view of race relations was at a two-decade low. A poll jointly released by the CBS News and The New York Times on May 4, 2015 showed that 61 percent of Americans characterized race relations in the United States as "bad," including a majority of white and black respondents. The figure was the highest since 1992 (newyork.cbslocal.com, May 4, 2015). A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll in December 2015 showed that only 34 percent of Americans believe race relations in the United States were fairly good or very good, down from a high of 77 percent in January 2009 (blogs.wsj.com, December 16, 2015). A survey released in November 2015 by the Public Religion Research Institute in the United States showed that 35 percent of Americans believed racial tensions were a major concern in their own communities, jumping 18 percentage points from 2012 (publicreligion.org, November 17, 2015). Figures released in August 2015 by Pew Research Center showed that 50 percent of Americans said that racism was a big problem in the U.S. society; 60 percent Americans said the country needed to continue making changes to achieve racial equality, up 14 percentage points from a year ago (www.people-press.org, August 5, 2015).
Cases of African-Americans being killed by police occurred repeatedly. On November 15, 2015, the 24-year-old African-American Jamar Clark was shot dead by white police officers. The fatal shooting occurred when two police officers were trying to arrest him. Witnesses said that Clark was handcuffed when he was shot in the head. The civil rights organization "Black Lives Matter" organized protests in multiple cities across the country. In a Facebook post, Black Lives Matter activists noted "the era of white supremacist terrorism against people of color across the U.S.," (www.theatlantic.com, November 18, 2015; www.mprnews.org, November 20, 2015; www.huffingtonpost.com, November 24, 2015) On April 12, 2015, as 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray was being arrested, police handcuffed him and had knees on his back and his head. Gray was dragged and thrown into the back of a police van with his face down. Gray requested medical attention while being transported in the van but the request was denied. Gray lapsed into a coma following the journey on April 12 and died a week later in a hospital. He died of a severe spinal cord injury. The incident sparked large-scale protests in Baltimore. The protests turned violent on April 27, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. It was the second time in six months that a state called out the National Guard to enforce order after a white police officer killed a black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson in 2014. The New York Times said that Gray had become the nation's latest symbol of police brutality in an April 28 story. (edition.cnn.com, April 29, 2015; www.bbc.com, May 5, 2015; baltimore.cbslocal.com, April 27, 2015; www.nytimes.com, April 27 and 28, 2015) According to The Washington Post website, police fatally shot 965 people in 2015 as of December 24, 2015, including 36 unarmed African-Americans (www.washingtonpost.com, December 24, 2015). The CBS News-New York Times poll released on May 4, 2015 showed that 79 percent of African-Americans believed police were more likely to use deadly force against a black person than against a white person, and black respondents were more likely than white respondents to believe their local police made them feel anxious rather than safe (newyork.cbslocal.com, May 4, 2015). According to a poll released by the National Bar Association in the United States, 88 percent of blacks believed black people were treated unfairly by police, compared with 59 percent of whites who shared that view (www.usatoday.com, September 9, 2015).
Racial discrimination in the criminal justice system was severe. A Gallup survey in 2015 showed that 68 percent of African-Americans believed the American criminal justice system was racially biased, while 37 percent of whites said the same (www.usatoday.com, June 18, 2015). According to a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute, 51 percent of Americans disagreed that blacks and other minorities received equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system, and 78 percent of black Americans disagreed that blacks and other minorities received equal treatment to whites in the criminal justice system (publicreligion.org, May 7, 2015). Prosecutors intentionally struck black people from juries in trials of black defendants. In the South, the practice for prosecutors to strike jurors based on race remained common (www.newyorker.com, June 5, 2015).
Race-related hate crimes occurred occasionally. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, shot dead three Muslim students near the University of North Carolina on February 10, 2015. Hicks had frequently posted messages critical of various religions on the Internet (indianexpress.com, June 5, 2015). On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, opened fire and killed nine people, including a pastor, at an African-American church in Charleston in South Carolina. According to witnesses, Roof told the victims, "You rape our women and you're taking over our country, and you have to go (www.cbsnews.com, June 17, 2015; www.bbc.com, June 19, 2015)."
Anti-Muslim remarks caused a great clamor. The Guardian reported on November 19, 2015 that a Republican presidential candidate made public comments, saying that he would consider warrantless searches of Muslims and increased surveillance of mosques, and that he would not rule out tracking Muslim Americans in a database or giving them "a special form of identification that noted their religion (www.theguardian.com, November 19, 2015)." On December 7, the presidential candidate made a statement calling for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States (www.economist.com, December 8, 2015)." In recent years, Americans' view on Islam became more and more negative. According to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, 56 percent of Americans said that the values of Islam were "at odds" with America's values and way of life, and 76 percent of Republicans were especially likely to have the same opinion (www.washingtonpost.com, November 17, 2015). The Human Rights Committee remained concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, notably Muslims (daccess-dds-ny.un.org).
Minority races were in a dire situation. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rates in November 2015 were 4.3 percent for whites, 9.4 percent for blacks and 6.4 percent for Hispanics. The unemployment rate for blacks more than doubled that for whites, and the figure for Hispanics was 50 percent higher than that for whites (www.bls.gov). The unemployment rate for black college graduates was roughly equal to the rate for white Americans with associate degrees (huffingtonpost.com, December 18, 2015). A third of Iowa's black households earned less than 20,000 U.S. dollars annually, compared with 8 percent of white households. More than one fifth of white households in Iowa earned 100,000 U.S. dollars or more in a year, but only eight percent of black households did (www.usatoday.com, October 31, 2015). Approximately 57 percent of New York City homeless shelter residents were African-American, 31 percent were Latino, 8 percent were white (www.coalitionforthehomeless.org, March 18, 2015). According to a CNN report on February 18, 2015, financial inequality was pervading the country and it was getting worse. Whites had 12 times the wealth of blacks and nearly 10 times more than Hispanics. "The American Dream remains out of reach for many African-American and Hispanic families." (money.cnn.com, February 18, 2015). The documentary Seeking Asylum by African-American Darnell Walker triggered heated responses after debuting online, chronicling the plight of black Americans who no longer felt safe in the United States due to rampant police brutality and were looking to settle elsewhere. Miles Marshall Lewis, who moved to France in 2004 from the United States, published his book "No Country for Black Men" in 2014, a response to the wave of police killings targeting blacks (www.thedailybeast.com, November 11, 2015).
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