WASHINGTON, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - The entire world is watching how the United States handles the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, the director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Hilary Shelton, said in an interview with RIA Novosti Monday.
“The world is watching what’s going on,” said Shelton from Geneva, Switzerland where he appeared before a review committee of the United Nations Convention on Ending Racial Discrimination (CERD) this past week.
Shelton relayed his main message to the UN CERD telling RIA Novosti, “We still have got to work out the problem with African-American young people being shot, and very specifically also being shot by law enforcement, even when they find themselves unarmed.”
Shelton believes that “the right questions were asked” of the US government, regarding what he and international observers he met with in Geneva consider a “disturbing trend” in US law enforcement.
Commenting on the surprising amount of military hardware, used recently in Ferguson, Shelton noted, “We seem to have police departments that are evolving to become much more militaristic, looking not like a civilian police force, but like an occupying force.”
“They’ve got semi-automatic and automatic assault weapons that were meant for the battlefield, and not for local communities,” he continued.
The images Shelton saw from Ferguson reminded him more of war-torn areas on the other side of the world, “not a Midwest community.”
Shelton is optimistic that the Geneva forum will help push the United States to take racial discrimination and the current militarization of local police forces more seriously.
“It is just this kind of forum which is happening here in Geneva that these issues are raised and the international community helps shine a bright spotlight on what’s happening, whenever these incidents happen in any place in the world, again whether its Wales, South Africa, whether it’s Belfast, or sadly, Ferguson, Missouri,” Shelton said.
Shelton’s trip to testify before the international review committee occurred as events in Ferguson, Missouri were escalating following the shooting of the unarmed 18 year old African-American, Michael Brown, by white police officers on August 9. The CERD review committee, comprised of representatives from all over the world, including Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil, India, Ireland and others, will be publishing its review of the US commitment to the Convention on August 29. Shelton stated that he believes the Ferguson incident will certainly play a part in the review committee’s analysis.