TIME United Nations

U.N. Panel Sharply Criticizes Police Brutality in U.S.

Ferguson
Atlanta Police in riot gear form a line on Williams Streets as protesters make their way down it in Atlanta, Ga. on Nov. 25, 2014, John Amis—AP

Michael Brown's parents testified before the committee

A United Nations panel criticized the United States for police brutality, military interrogations and excessive use of force by law enforcement in a report released Friday.

“There are numerous areas in which certain things should be changed for the United States to comply fully with the convention,” said Alessio Bruni, a member of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, referring to U.N. agreements on torture.

The panel released their report just days after violence erupted in Ferguson, Mo., following the announcement of a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

While the latest U.N. report did not mention Ferguson explicitly, Brown’s parents testified before the committee in Geneva earlier this month. And the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights who oversees the committee on torture, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, raised concerns over “institutionalized discrimination in the U.S.” and added that he was unsure about whether the Ferguson grand jury’s decision complies with international human rights law.

“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” the commissioner said in a statement.

TIME Civil Rights

These Slain Civil Rights Workers Are Getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Civil Rights Workers Murdered
From left, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman Underwood Archives / Getty Images

What happened to James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner?

On Monday, President Obama will award 19 people with the highest honor possible for an American civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Though the majority of the honorees, like Tom Brokaw and Stephen Sondheim, are famous and living, one of the items on the list of recipients stands out: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Not only is theirs the only item on the list honoring a group rather than an individual, but their names may also be unfamiliar to most people, as well as the achievement, half a century ago, for which the three men are being honored — one that resulted in their deaths.

Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were part of the “Freedom Summer” voter-registration drive that took place in Mississippi in 1964; they were killed that June. Their deaths, in the words of the White House, “shocked the nation and their efforts helped to inspire many of the landmark civil rights advancements that followed.”

Here’s what happened to them:

As TIME reported in its issue of July 3, 1964, Chaney and Schwerner were among the staffers at an “indoctrination course” in Ohio at which hundreds of Northern college students prepared to go to Mississippi to register voters. Schwerner, then 24, was a social worker from New York who had spent the previous two years, along with his wife Rita, working for civil rights with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Chaney was a high-school drop-out who had joined CORE and volunteered to be an instructor at the orientation for voter registration. Goodman was one of their students, a junior at Queens College who was relatively new to the civil-rights movement. They left the orientation, along with five other people, on June 20 and drove to Mississippi.

Freedom Summer map
From the July 3, 1964, issue of TIME

On the morning of June 21, they visited the office of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO)—an advocacy group that was one of the organizers of the drive—in Meridian, Miss., before driving to see the site of a recently burned-down church in the area. They met with one of the church’s lay leaders, who described to them what had happened during the fire, and then set off to return to Meridian. Their car was stopped for speeding around 5:00 p.m. near Philadelphia, Miss. They were booked at the county jail, fined and told to leave.

Late that night, the police deputy escorted them to the edge of town. But they never returned to Meridian. COFO alerted the FBI and the highway patrol. Within three days, their car was found — gutted and stripped — and a full-scale search was underway (see map). It was slow going, according to TIME:

At week’s end, there was still no sign of the missing men. Some people shared the suspicion voiced by Neshoba County Sheriff L. A. Rainey: “They’re just hiding and trying to cause a lot of bad publicity for this part of the state.” But with each passing day, the possibility of a hoax seemed less and less likely. Whatever their fate, whether dead or alive, the case of the three young civil rights workers would reverberate around the U.S. for the rest of this summer and beyond.

Their bodies were found more than a month later. All three had been shot.

Three years later, the local Sheriff and his deputy were indicted by a federal grand jury on civil rights charges. Though the deaths of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were considered, no murder charges could be bought. (Those would have had to have come from Mississippi, not the federal government.) When the related trial began that October, more than a dozen Mississippians faced charges.

During the trial, eyewitness accounts by paid informers revealed what had happened to the three men. As TIME reported:

Carlton Wallace Miller, 43, a Meridian police sergeant who received $2,400 from the FBI over a two-year period, testified that the Meridian chapter of the White Knights of the Klan had marked Schwerner for “elimination—the term for murdering someone.” To lure Schwerner from Meridian, where he and his wife Rita were operating a Negro community center, said Miller, Klansmen burned down the Mount Zion (Negro) Church at Longdale, outside Philadelphia. Five days later, Schwerner and two companions, Goodman, a white man, and Chancy, a Negro, drove 50 miles to Longdale to inspect the ruins of the church.

Near Philadelphia, the three men were arrested on a speeding charge by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, 29. Soon, said James E. Jordan, 41, who received $8,000 from the FBI and has been living safely in Georgia and Florida since turning informer nearly three years ago, the word went swiftly around Meridian that there were some “civil rights workers locked up and they need their rear ends torn up.”

Jordan and seven others, he said, armed themselves and drove to Philadelphia. There they parked by the courthouse where Ethel Glen (“Hop”) Barnett, 45, current Democratic nominee for sheriff of Neshoba County and one of the defendants, told them to wait. Two uniformed men in a city police car informed them that the prospective victims had been released. Later they were told by men in a highway patrol car that the victims would be stopped somewhere down the highway by Deputy Sheriff Price, who, along with Neshoba Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, is now on trial.

…They were driven into a deserted area, and Jordan got out to stand guard. “The cars then went on up the road,” testified Jordan. “I heard doors slam and loud talk. Then I heard several shots.”

Seven of the defendants in that trial were found guilty of conspiracy. In 2005, a former Klansman became the first person to face actual murder charges related to the case; he was convicted and sentenced, aged 80, to 60 years in jail.

President Obama mentioned each by name in his 2013 speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s March on Washington. “To dismiss the magnitude of this progress — to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years,” the President said. “Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. — they did not die in vain. Their victory was great.”

Read TIME’s original 1964 report on the search for the missing men in the TIME Vault: The Grim Roster

TIME

Cop in Ferguson Shooting Gets Married

Darren Wilson
Officer Darren Wilson, seen in a video provided by the City of Ferguson, attends a city council meeting in Ferguson, Mo. City of Ferguson/AP

The white police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., this year quietly married a fellow officer in October, according to a new report.

Darren Wilson has been on paid leave from the Ferguson Police Department since fatally shooting Michael Brown in August. He has been laying low while he awaits a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict him.

Public records obtained by the New York Times show Wilson married Barbara Spradling on Oct. 24. The marriage license was issued in Clayton, Mo., outside St. Louis. This is a second marriage for both Wilson and Spradling, who own a home together.

[NYT]

TIME photography

The Best of LIFE: 37 Years in Pictures

A selection of photos from LIFE magazine's storied archives: a photo a year from four decades of unparalleled excellence

Over several decades spanning the heart of the 20th century, one American magazine ― calling itself, plainly and boldly, LIFE ― published an astonishing number of the most memorable photographs ever made. Driven by the certainty that the art of photojournalism could tell stories and move people in ways that traditional reporting simply could not, LIFE pursued a grand vision, articulated by the magazine’s co-founder, Henry Luce, that not only acknowledged the primacy of the picture, but enshrined it.

“To see life,” Luce wrote in a now-famous 1936 mission statement, delineating both his new venture’s workmanlike method and its lofty aims. “To see the world; to eyewitness great events . . . to see and be amazed.”

The roster of talent, meanwhile, associated with Luce’s audacious publishing gamble is, in a word, staggering: W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Carl Mydans, Andreas Feininger, John Loengard, Gordon Parks, John Dominis, Hansel Mieth, Grey Villet, David Douglas Duncan, Paul Schutzer, Ralph Morse, Michael Rougier, Eliot Elisofon, Nina Leen, Larry Burrows, Gjon Mili and dozens of other groundbreaking photojournalists not only shot for LIFE, but were on staff at the magazine.

“In the course of a week,” Luce noted in 1936, “the U.S. citizen sees many pictures. He may see travel pictures in travel magazines, art pictures in art digests, cinema pictures in cinemagazines, scientific pictures in scientific journals. But nowhere can he see the cream of all the world’s pictures brought together for him to enjoy and study in one sitting.”

The cream of all the world’s pictures. A nervy assertion ― but an assertion repeatedly affirmed by LIFE’s tireless, innovative photographers and the work they produced, issue by issue, week after week, year upon year. World war and peaceful revolutions; Hollywood icons and history-shaping villains; the Space Race and civil rights; Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea published ― in its entirety ― in one issue, and a breathless cover story on a now-long-forgotten Hollywood ingénue in the next: however momentous the event, however legendary, notorious or simply of-the-moment the person, LIFE was there.

Today, the breathtaking pictures they took live here, on LIFE.com. Resurrected through trailblazing photo essays, lighthearted features, and previously unpublished photographs of the century’s leading figures and most pivotal, meaningful moments, Henry Luce’s vision (to see life, to eyewitness great events, to see and be amazed) remains as relevant and thrilling today as it was 75 years ago.

This gallery ― featuring one magnificent image a year from 1936, when the magazine premiered, to 1972, when LIFE ceased publishing as a weekly ― serves as an introduction to, and a celebration of, the treasures of a storied archive: a tightly focused glimpse into the breadth and excellence of one publication’s iconic photography.

TIME Crime

Protesters Arrested in Ferguson as Grand Jury Nears Its Decision

It marked the first such arrests in about a week.

Several people were arrested at a protest in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday night calling for the officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen in August to be charged by a grand jury.

The protesters tried to block a street outside the city police station during a demonstration that drew dozens of people in sub-freezing temperatures, Reuters reports. The arrests were the first in a week, and came amid heightened security as the grand jury nears its decision after some three months of deliberating.

Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday, in anticipation of the public response to the grand jury decision about whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will be charged in the August 9 killing of Michael Brown.

[Reuters]

TIME Civil Rights

FBI Letter to Martin Luther King Jr Reveals Ugly Truths From Hoover’s Era

MARTIN LUTHER KING A PARIS 1965
Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964
"First person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence"
Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

MLK is depicted as evil and a fraud in the letter that urges the civil rights icon to commit suicide

A scathing letter sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Civil Rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been uncovered, pulling back the curtain on J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to discredit the leader as his popularity grew.

In the anonymous letter, published for the first time in the New York Times Wednesday, the author refers to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient as “evil,” a “fraud,” and a “dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile.” The author threatens to expose King as an adulterer and in the end flat-out suggests that the leader commit suicide.

One passage reads: “No person can overcome facts, not even a fraud like yourself. Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure. You will find yourself in all your dirt, filth, evil, and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time. I repeat—no person can argue successfully against facts. You are finished.”

The FBI under Hoover devoted a great deal of attention to Dr. King, whom Hoover considered a threat to national security, Vox reports. The letter reportedly came to be after Hoover failed to prove King was a Communist, which he could have used to disgrace him. Yale professor of American History Beverly Gage wrote in the New York Times, the letter is “the most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s F.B.I. run amok.”

Read the full letter at the New York Times.

TIME Science

Looking to Science for Answers About Race

Theodosius Dobzhansky
Theodosius Dobzhansky, circa 1960s Pictorial Parade / Getty Images

How a forgotten scientist changed the way we talk about race

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Americans are constantly reminded of the contradictions concerning the meaning and impact of race.

We can as a nation claim progress as it pertains to race. After all, a majority of American voters have twice elected President Barack Obama to the most powerful office in the world.

Yet, for as much progress as we have made there is as much work to be done. The recent killings by police of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York remind us how race shapes the often hostile relationship between law enforcement and some communities. Racist comments by several NBA owners remind us that some remain polluted by the foolish belief in the fundamental superiority and inferiority of different groups. Skin color still limits economic and other opportunities. Take home loans: over the past few years the U.S. Justice Department settled cases with several banks for having steered non-whites into expensive subprime loans despite having qualified for standard mortgages.

Race matters, of course, and so too does the meaning we give it. We have often turned to science for that meaning—to justify beliefs and to provide a vocabulary for explaining human differences. But science too struggles with understanding race.

When we talk about the scientific meaning of race today we do so largely because of the work of the distinguished evolutionary biologist Theodosious Dobzhansky, who spent most of his career at Columbia University. Though today forgotten outside of scientific circles, Dobzhansky was almost single-handedly responsible for reshaping the race concept in the 20th century through his classic book, Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937).

Until Dobzhansky’s work appeared, race was defined largely in typological terms, meaning that one member of a race was thought to share the same traits with other members of that race. This kind of thinking helped perpetuate racist actions and stereotypes. For example, from 1932-1972 the infamous Tuskegee Study followed the natural course of syphilis in African American men because it was mistakenly believed that syphilis was a different disease in blacks than it was in whites.

Although Dobzhansky was unaware of the Tuskegee Study at that time, he did understand that such classifications were bad science. Dobzhansky, through new techniques in population genetics and evolutionary biology, came to understand first in the non-human animals he studied like fruit flies and ladybug beetles, and later in humans, that genetic diversity at the racial or population level was far greater than most people knew. Racial groups were much more genetically complex than a typological race concept would allow.

So how did Dobzhansky redefine race? To Dobzhansky, race was simply a methodological tool to facilitate the scientific study of human and other populations. Race was not a fixed entity, it was a way to organize individuals within a species based on the frequency with which a gene or genes appeared in that population. Depending on the genes being investigated, there could be just a few or many races. What made his definition so important and so radical was that he understood that the way we choose to organize differences in gene frequencies within species were about data and methodology, not about an underlying racial hierarchy or about the fixity of certain traits within specific groups. Dobzhansky thus sought to extract racism from the race concept.

By the 1960s, Dobzhansky grew disillusioned with the race concept, and came to believe that the scientific study of race was not only inseparable from its broader social meanings, but that it could also be put in the service of reinforcing those social meanings. The rise of the Civil Rights Movement and his own battles with other scientists over the imprecise and often inappropriate use of the term ‘race’ led him to issue a challenge to the field: devise better and more meaningful methods to investigate genetic diversity.

More than fifty years later biology still struggles with Dobzhansky’s challenge and still operates within a paradox that he himself struggled with. On the one hand, race can be an important tool to help scientists organize genetic diversity. On the other, race is an imprecise marker of genetic diversity and not a great proxy for elucidating the relationship between our ancestry and our genes.

This paradox remains central to the use of race in our genomic age. For example, it is currently too expensive to sequence everyone’s genomes, so the rapidly growing field of personalized medicine relies on race as a proxy to make best guesses about an individual’s disease risk and how one’s genes influence the response (positively or negatively) to drug treatments. Because genetic variants can cluster in populations, the belief is that this can help clinicians and drug companies make medical decisions based on one’s race. The potential danger here is that we inadvertently reinforce a crude understanding of race, forgetting that it is a highly flawed concept that cannot be used as a proxy for an individual’s own genome.

It turns out that muddled thinking about race is as deeply ingrained in scientific as non-scientific thought, and that scientists are as conflicted about race as the rest of society. It is neither cynical nor misguided to acknowledge this. It is only a reflection of a society that continues to struggle with the meaning and impact of racial difference.

Michael Yudell, Interim Chair and Associate Professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health, is author of “Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the 20th Century,” which was recently published by Columbia University Press.

TIME Military

U.S. Army Changes Policy Approving Use of Word ‘Negro’

"The racial definitions ... are outdated, currently under review, and will be updated shortly."

The Army has amended “outdated” U.S. Army policy guidelines that said that the word “Negro” could be used to refer to African Americans in data on race and ethnicity, after the regulation surfaced in media reports Wednesday.

LTC Ben Garrett confirmed to TIME that the language referring to the word “Negro” was removed from the Army Command Policy on Thursday.

The regulation appeared in a section on equal opportunity and may have dated back years. As CNN reports, citing an anonymous army official, the regulation may have been intended to allow African Americans to self-report as Negro.

In fact, the Census Bureau included the word on surveys through 2010 for that reason, deciding only last year to drop it, according to the Associated Press. Until then, the government believed that some older African Americans would still identify as “Negro,” a term that arose during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, the AP reported.

In the wake of sometimes breathless media reports about the regulation, the Army said it would follow suit.

“The racial definitions in AR600-20 para. 6-2 are outdated,” Garrett said in a statement before the regulation was altered. “The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect and not discriminated against based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin.”

TIME Civil Rights

How Gandhi’s Time in Jail Helped His Cause

Mahatma Gandhi TIME Cover 1930
Mahatma Gandhi on the cover of TIME, Mar. 31, 1930 TIME

Nov. 6, 1913: Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in South Africa while leading a march to oppose a racist policy

Before he was the pioneering civil rights activist called by the honorific “Mahatma” (“great soul,” in Sanskrit), Mohandas Gandhi was a young attorney just trying to take his seat on a train.

Not long after moving to South Africa in 1893 to help an Indian merchant with a legal problem, he was kicked out of the first-class section of a train — despite having bought a ticket for it — after being told, “This is for whites only,” according to Ramachandra Guha, the author of Gandhi Before India. “He had just come from England, where — at least in London in the 1890s — professionals who were colored did not face discrimination,” Guha said in an interview with NPR. The experience was both humiliating and eye-opening, and set the stage for the civil disobedience that would become Gandhi’s legacy.

He paid a price — including four periods in jail during his 21 years in South Africa — for demonstrating against discrimination, but continued with protests, such as leading Indian expats in opposing a racist law requiring all Indians to register with the “Asiatic Department” and to carry their registration cards at all times or risk deportation. His final stint in a South African prison began with his arrest on this day 101 years ago — Nov. 6, 1913 — for leading a march of more than 2,000 people to protest a tax on Indian immigrants.

While he left South Africa for good the following year, his arrest record was far from complete.

Going to jail was, in fact, one of the sharpest tools in Gandhi’s nonviolent tool belt, along with fasting (or a combination of the two). According to TIME’s 1948 report on his assassination, British authorities often freed him from jail when he began to fast, “lest a massive anger at his death in their hands engulf India.” Gandhi himself once said, according to the story, “I always get my best bargains behind prison bars.”

The lessons he learned about the effectiveness of peaceful protest in South Africa formed the basis for his efforts to end British oppression in India. In the book Satyagraha in South Africa, Gandhi relates a conversation with a tailor in 1915, just after returning to India.

He gave me some account of the hardships inflicted on the people in Viramgam, and said:

“Please do something to end this trouble…”

“Are you ready to go to jail?” I asked.

“We are ready to march to the gallows,” was the quick reply.

“Jail will do for me,” I said. “But see that you do not leave me in the lurch.”

Read TIME’s original coverage of Gandhi’s assassination, here in the archives: Saints & Heroes: Of Truth and Shame

TIME celebrities

Bill Maher Will Be UC Berkeley’s Commencement Speaker Despite Student Protest

Celebrities Visit "Late Show With David Letterman" - September 8, 2014
Television personality Bill Maher enters the "Late Show With David Letterman" taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on September 8. Ray Tamarra—WireImage

School says it's not "an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements"

The University of California, Berkeley says it will not rescind an invitation to comedian Bill Maher to be the school’s commencement speaker, despite a student vote to disinvite him.

The student committee in charge of the speaker selection process voted to rescind the HBO host’s invitation on Tuesday amid growing criticism of Maher’s views on religion and particularly Islam. More than 4,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to cancel Maher’s December commencement speech.

But on Wednesday, the university released a statement saying it will not accept the student vote.

“The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech,” the school said. “It should be noted that this decision does not constitute an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements: indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context, since we fully respect and support his right to express them.”

Maher’s response to the controversy? You’ll have to watch the show:

Read next: Watch Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Argue About Islam

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