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Michael Brown’s Parents Testify at UN Torture Committee

Brown and McSpadden. (CBS screen grab)

Brown and McSpadden. (CBS screen grab)

The parents of Michael Brown, the Missouri teen shot and killed by police, testified before a United Nations committee in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday because they want “the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson.”

Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. addressed a closed-door session of the UN Committee Against Torture. Although their testimony was not public, McSpadden and Brown held a press conference afterwards to explain why they traveled from Missouri to Switzerland to speak to the Committee.

“We came here to the UN to get justice for our son,” Brown told reporters.

“We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice,” McSpadden told CNN. “We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the UN so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson.”

A statement prepared by Brown’s family and the advocacy groups HandsUpUnited, the Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment says the shooting of Brown, who was unarmed, by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, as well as the violent police response to the protests which followed the killing, “represent violations of the [UN] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

Accounts vary as to what led Wilson to shoot and kill Brown, who was 18 years old and just days away from starting college, on August 9. Brown and friend Dorian Johnson were walking down the middle of a Ferguson street when Wilson drove up in a patrol SUV and ordered the teens to the sidewalk. Wilson continued driving before suddenly stopping, backing his vehicle up and stopping near Brown and Johnson.

An altercation, whose circumstances remain under investigation, ensued between Wilson and Brown through the window of the officer’s Chevy Tahoe. Wilson’s gun fired twice, striking Brown once in the arm while it was still inside the vehicle.

Brown and Johnson then began running away. Johnson hid behind a car. Wilson fired at least six shots, killing Brown. An autopsy later determinedthe teen had been shot at least six times.

Wilson claims Brown had him pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life because the teen reached for his gun. The officer also says Brown punched and scratched him repeatedly.

The latest of many US shootings of unarmed black men and boys by white police officers sparked months of protests in Ferguson and worldwide media and activist attention. While the demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful, fringe elements and opportunistic troublemakers engaged in vandalism, looting and attacks on law enforcement.

Heavily-armed and armored riot and SWAT police fired ‘less lethal’ and chemical projectiles at demonstrators, with authorities arresting hundreds over the course of the coming weeks. Some journalists covering the protests reported being arrested or brutalized by police.

State and local elected officials were also arrested during the demonstrations.

On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon warned that “violence will not be tolerated” after a grand jury announces whether or not Wilson will be indicted. The Missouri National Guard, which Nixon called in on August 18 in the wake of violent clashes between police and demonstrators, is on standby for the grand jury decision, which could come as soon as this weekend.

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