Ferguson - a black mark on America

By Tim Collard
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 10, 2014
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People attend a demonstration protesting against a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of black man Eric Garner in Washington D.C., the United States, Dec. 8, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

In 1950, the United Nations General Assembly declared Dec. 10, the day on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, to be World Human Rights Day. Since that day 64 years ago, there has been a considerable amount of progress compared to the situation before 1945, but there has also been a great deal of disappointment.

In the last few months, unrest in the United States arising from the shooting of a young black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in the town of Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9 have drawn the world's attention. More recently, this has been exacerbated by further unrest following a grand jury decision not to proceed with prosecuting Darren Wilson, the officer who pulled the trigger. In the meantime, another death has occurred in similar circumstances, bringing the number of black men known to have been killed by police officers' excessive use of force in the United States in 2014 to five. A considerable level of bad feeling has thus grown up throughout U.S. cities - there have been protest demonstrations in at least 170 cities - almost all of which suffer from some degree of racial tension in this highly diverse country with an uncomfortable history of slavery and legalized racism.

Just as the great hopes raised by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights led to increased disappointment when expectations of improvement were not met, the deep disappointment engendered by Ferguson and similar circumstances owes something to the hopes attached to the election of Barack Obama, the country's first non-white President. Whatever one's attitude toward the U.S., it was impossible to be unmoved by the rapturous reception the President received at his inauguration: Americans from all backgrounds saw the prospect of the racial tensions which have bedevilled the country's history gradually receding. It hasn't worked out like that.

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