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International human rights experts solicit local testimony on police brutality, racism

Representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Council met with Black community members in North Minneapolis Tuesday to gather testimonies addressing racism and police violence in Minnesota.

EMLER is a racial justice organization created by the United Nations in 2021 after the global uprising following the murder of George Floyd. The organization offers support to cities attempting to combat systemic racism in law enforcement.

Locals gathered in North Minneapolis at the Urban League Twin Cities to share their testimonies.

EMLER heard heartbreaking stories both from people who were formerly incarcerated and from families of individuals who are currently incarcerated. They questioned the ethics of solitary confinement and described its devastating effects on both juveniles and adults.

Myon Burrell says he spent the first five months of his sentence in solitary confinement, and that he developed an antisocial personality as a result. He said it was a common side effect. “I’d never seen grown men so hopeless,” he said.

Advocates requested that solitary confinement be banned and recognized as an insufficient form of rehabilitation.

“Kids were breaking,” recalled Antonio Williams from his own experience as a juvenile. Williams served a 14 year sentence. He says the minimum amount of time he spent in solitary confinement throughout his sentence was 15 days.

Others shared stories of police violence. Toshira Garraway from Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence (FSFAPV) brought a list with the names of over 500 victims who she says died unjustly at the hands of law enforcement since the year 2000.

Garraway has been an advocate for families who’ve suffered a loss at the hands of the police since the father of her child, Justin Tiegen, died in 2009. Tiegan was 24 years old when he went missing after an altercation with the police and was later found dead. Garraway says after all these years of advocacy, justice still hasn’t been served.

“We come and we do this to ourselves over and over, and nothing happens,” said Garraway.

Garraway and others requested investigations into police brutality be reopened.

EMLER’s tour of the United States began on April 24 and ends May 5. In addition to Minneapolis, the tour's destinations also include New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.

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