Amnesty International

The issue is national in scope and reaches people all across this country. For too many people, especially in minority communities, the trust that is so essential to effective policing does not exist because residents believe that police have used excessive force, that law enforcement is too aggressive, that law enforcement is biased, disrespectful, and unfair."
Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States, speaking on police brutality at a National Press Club luncheon, Washington, DC, 15 April 1999.

Police brutality and use of excessive force has been one of the central themes of Amnesty International's campaign on human rights violations in the USA, launched in October 1998. In United States of America: Rights for All (AI Index: AMR 51/35/98), the organization documented patterns of ill-treatment across the USA, including police beatings, unjustified shootings and the use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects. While only a minority of the many thousands of law enforcement officers in the USA engage in deliberate and wanton brutality, Amnesty International found that too little was being done to monitor or check persistent abusers, or to ensure that police tactics in certain common situations minimized the risk of unnecessary force and injury. The report also noted that widespread, systematic abuses had been found in some jurisdictions or police precincts. It highlighted evidence that racial and ethnic minorities were disproportionately the victims of police misconduct, including false arrest and harassment as well as verbal and physical abuse.