These Brutal Indignities: The Case for Crimes Against Humanity in Black America.

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There is nothing we can do. Not guilty. No indictment. There is nothing we can do. As cases of violence and police killings of Black Americans continue to rise, “there’s nothing we can do” seems like the default response from the American justice system. Despite the evidence, police officers enjoy the protection of qualified immunity to insulate them from the consequences of their deadly actions. Prosecutors, who often work closely with police, decline to press criminal charges, or if charges are raised, they rarely lead to convictions. Instead of protecting its citizens from violence and loss of life, the American legal system serves as a barrier for Black people seeking accountability. The international legal system is not much better. If Black Americans seek remedy and relief from the United Nations, an international organization founded to maintain peace and protect human rights, they receive the same response. By failing to officially condemn the ongoing human rights violations occurring in the United States, the UN has indicated that there is nothing it can do either. Meanwhile, the atrocities, which I argue amount to Crimes Against Humanity against Black Americans, continue. This paper analyzes historic and modern instances of murder, persecution, and other inhumane acts, committed by the members of the U.S. government and individual actors against Black Americans. In it, I argue not just that these acts are Crimes Against Humanity, but that the known perpetrators of the attack against Black Americans are being insulated by American Exceptionalism, a barrier to justice and accountability, if ever there was one. <br><br>“We say again, now: We will submit no further to the brutal indignities being practiced against us; we will not be intimidated, and most certainly not eliminated . . . We Charge Genocide—not only of the past but of the future. And we swear: it must not, it shall not, it will not happen to our people.”<br><br>- Ossie Davis
Original languageAmerican English
JournalKentucky Law Journal
Issue number62
StatePublished - Feb 14 2023


  • Crimes Against Humanity
  • International Criminal Law
  • Race and the Law
  • Critical Race Theory


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