Black men in the United States between 18 and 44 are more than three times as likely as white men the same age to be killed by a police officer. While black men make up only about six percent of the U.S. population, last year they accounted for one-third of the unarmed people killed by police. In July, the president of the United States stood before an audience of law enforcement officials and actively encouraged police violence. Attorney General Sessions is working overtime to roll back Obama-era policies that he has deemed too "soft" on crime.
In Brazil, where people of African descent make up nearly 53 percent of the population, a similar human rights crisis is underway. Last year, police in Rio de Janeiro killed an average of five people per day and the numbers in 2017 are on track to be higher. Violence in some favelas (slums) has threatened young people’s access to health and education as drug gangs and police exchange fire in the middle of communities. Police violence against black communities is so grave it is often referred to as the genocide of black people.
The Open Society Human Rights Initiative and Justice Roundtable are hosting a conversation about racial justice and policing in the United States and Brazil to highlight the shared experiences and challenges of Afro-Brazilians and Afro-Americans.
- Jasmine Mickens (moderator) is a senior policy associate at the Open Society Foundations.
- Wagner Moreira Campos is an attorney at Institute for the Development of Social Action.
- Marlon Peterson is the founder and chief re-imaginator of The Precedential Group and a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow.
- Francisca Sena is a social worker and coordinator at the Black Women’s Institute of Ceará.
- Jennifer Shaw is a program officer of US Programs at Open Society Foundations.