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Author Bio

Balthazar I. Beckett is Assistant Professor with the American University in Cairo (AUC). He holds a PhD from the City University of New York, Graduate Center, and his work has appeared in Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, South Atlantic Review, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, Poverty and Race, Kritikon Litterarum, African American National Biography, and Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, and elsewhere. He has documented human rights issues in many places, including at the United Nations in Geneva; the uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri; anti- eviction vigils in the San Francisco Bay Area; and the protests at Standing Rock. He is currently organizing a conference on Literature and Human Rights in Cairo.

Salimah K. Hankins, Esq. is the Interim Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN). Before this, Salimahorganized the civil society side of the U.S government review before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland in 2014 and has produced six annual human rights reports for USHRN. Salimah began her legal career as an associate at the ACLU of Maryland. Most recently, she served as Senior Staff Attorney for Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, CA. While there, she worked on anti-gentrification and displacement issues and worked with community groups to secure a $20 million settlement from Facebook which created an affordable housing fund worth $75 million

Abstract

Following the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, members of the human rights movement in the United States understood instantly that justice within the American legal system, which has a long history of shielding police officers and racist vigilantes from prosecution, was anything but certain. To enhance the chances of having the individual officers (Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao) prosecuted for Floyd’s death, but also to have demands for systemic change heard and amplified, the United States Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) worked with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and others to set in motion a process that gained the support of domestic and international human rights organizations; international human rights bodies, such as the African Group/Group of African States (GAFS), consisting of fifty-four African nations; and, finally, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) itself. In fact, the urgent debate held at the United Nations in Geneva in June 2020 marked an unprecedented moment in the institution’s long history. This was the first time that a Western country had been held accountable, at this level, for flagrant human rights violations occurring within their borders and at the hands of their government.

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