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U.N. says ‘racial terrorism’ against black people in the U.S. endures, calls for reparations

“There has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.”

Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, head of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, center, flanked by human rights experts and members of the working group Michal Balcerzak, left, and Ricardo A. Sunga, addresses the media during a press conference, in Rome, June 5, 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, head of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, center, flanked by human rights experts and members of the working group Michal Balcerzak, left, and Ricardo A. Sunga, addresses the media during a press conference, in Rome, June 5, 2015. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

A United Nations working group of experts has said recent killings of Black people by police officers are reminiscent of 19th and 20th century lynchings, months after a visit to the United States, in which they called for the distribution of reparations.

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching,” said the report by the U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

Police killings of Black people has become a major talking point in American society over the last couple years, after coverage of multiple high profile cases. This year alone, 195 Black people were killed by police at a rate of 4.88 kills per million people. That makes a Black person more than twice as likely to be killed by police than a white or Hispanic/Latino person and only just behind a Native American.

And as my colleague Alan Pyke pointed out last week, Black people are often regularly left to die — even after police officers disarm the wounded citizen (or discover there was no weapon at all).

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In just the last month, three high profile police killings ended the lives of Terence Crutcher,40, Keith Scott, 43, Tyre King, 13, among more than a dozen others. Scott’s killing led to massive protests in Charlotte, North Carolina led by residents fed up with law enforcement’s lack of accountability and racist policing practices.

The U.N. working group said these were problems intrinsically linked to U.S. history.

“In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the working group said in a statement from a trip to the United States in January. “Impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

But with a history so steeped in racial violence, the group said it would take much more than recognizing the effect of state violence. The group railed against the country’s treatment of people of African descent, said that white supremacy is still present in the American population, and called for reparations to be issued to members of the Black community.

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.”