While protests for racial justice and against police brutality continue in American cities, over 500 American military veterans have joined to sign a letter urging the government not to use the U.S. military as a tool to suppress protesters and deny Americans their First Amendment rights. The letter provides a reminder that the use of combat troops against protesters throughout U.S. history has consistently led to human rights abuses and the demise of civil liberties and that such actions explicitly violate the oath all service members took to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
A section of the letter reads:
“As veterans who have served in defense of human rights around the world, we must speak out about abuses here in the United States. Were we to be silent, we would be complicit. A government’s oppression of an ethnic minority would be unconscionable anywhere in the world, and it is especially reprehensible in the United States. Black people have survived human rights abuses for over four hundred years; it is long past time for that systematic targeting to stop.
“The increasingly militarized law enforcement response to street protests and working journalists is similarly concerning, as is the deployment of personnel from government agencies like Customs and Border Patrol, who are not trained or prepared to respond to situations such as these. National Guard deployments must be based on communities’ needs for assistance, not to further partisan agendas.”
The current protest movement confronts critical issues of democracy – police brutality, defense of voting rights, decarceration and the abusive relationship between law enforcement and minority members of American society. The signatories of this letter expressed that they believe our elected leaders are accountable for making the changes necessary to assure equal justice to all citizens.
The letter will almost certainly continue to collect signatures from former members of all four branches of the armed services. Veterans for American Ideals, a project of Human Rights First will continue to organize veteran voices to push the United States to live up to its values and ensure equal justice under the law.
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