Archive: 26 May 2023

Publicizing America’s Persecution of African-Americans is a Moral Duty, Not Treason

Publicizing America’s Persecution of African Americans is a Moral Duty, Not Treason

Publicizing America’s Persecution of African Americans is a Moral Duty, Not Treason

As Human Rights Defenders (HRD), we have a moral obligation to speak out against acts that violate human rights, such as government wrongdoing and impunity. In my personal opinion, it is important to bring these concerns to light because of the damaging influence it has on disenfranchised communities, such as African Americans.

Over the years, the US government has hired private security firms to surveil African Americans who protest police brutality.[1] It has militarized its police departments and trained them in global counterinsurgency tactics to intimidate Black communities who make public complaints about racism. The US has also used surveillance, monitoring, informants,[2] colluders and other illicit practices to classify Black activists and HRDs as a threat to national security. Its framing of Black activists and HRDs as a threat gives it imprimatur to criminalize dissent both domestically and abroad.

These tactics, according to Mian, are reminiscent of the Counter Intelligence Program (“COINTELPRO”). While some suggest the FBI has abandoned its use of the term ‘BIE’, Mian contends there are no signs that it has retracted the label it has given to African American dissidents.[3] Indeed, evidence reveals the US government still frames Black dissidents who are critical of law enforcement as violent, so that it can quell dissent.[4]

Can the Expressions I Make Against the US Government Abroad be Interpreted as Treason?

As a HRD who actively speaks out against the US government’s ill-treatment of African Americans while abroad, my research and activism got me thinking: Would the US government interpret my expressions abroad as treason?

What is Treason?

The Encyclopædia Britannica defines treason as crime of betraying a nation or a sovereign by acts considered dangerous to security.[5]

What is Aid and Comfort in US Treason Law?

According to Article III, § 3 of the US Constitution, “treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort…” However, in Young v. United States, the US Supreme Court clarified that “aid or comfort to the rebellion” should be interpreted in its hostile sense,[6] such as furnishing warships or giving secret intelligence relating to the strength, movements, or position of an army.[7]

Publicizing America’s Persecution of African Americans is a Moral Duty, Not Treason

Do American HRDs Owe Fidelity to the US if Abroad?

It is argued that “every individual owes fidelity and allegiance to the government under which [they] are living in return for protection which [they] receive from the government.”[8]  The key word is “protection,” but, how it is defined in the eyes of international law? Protection or the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) entails a State safeguarding its citizens from “…genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and Crimes against Humanity.”[9]  Yet, the Inquiry Commission found the systematic killing and maiming of unarmed Black people, who posed no threat of death or serious bodily harm to police or others, was so widespread that it constituted Crimes against Humanity.[10]

This raises the question as to whether an American HRD or activist residing abroad is permitted to pass on evidence of US human rights violations, if one has formed the belief that facts warrant disclosure, and does so on the basis of such belief.[11] Indeed, American HRDs often form and hold opinions, and draw public attention to human rights violations,[12] such as Crimes against Humanity, which the US government could interpret as a treasonable act. Yet, Philosopher Cécile Fabre contends that an individual is robustly justified to commit, what she refers to as permissible treason, if an individual acts on the basis of such belief.[13] To be sure, Fabre specifies there is a moral duty owed to both the victim and the rescuers when the latter are under a duty to rescue.[14]

This leads me to believe that American HRDs do have a moral duty to bring global attention to the human rights violations transpiring in the US[15] because the international community has a duty to protect and rescue.

Are American HRDs Committing Treason by Calling for the Nullification of Laws?

It has been suggested that an American could be charged with treason by calling for the nullification[16] or the repeal of law or amendments, such as the Second Amendment. Even if the US government argued that such may weaken its position militarily, this argument cannot stand, as the epidemic of gun violence in the nation indicates the Second Amendment may be interfering with protected rights, such as the right to life.

In Cramer v. United States, the Court said so long as a citizen commits no act of aid or comfort to the enemy, they are free to harbour convictions that may be at odds with the government’s policies and interests.[17] In other words, American HRDs can make speeches critical of the government or oppose its measures while abroad, so long as they do not adhere to the country’s enemy or have an intent to betray the US.

It is worth stating at this point that when the US enacts amendments that adversely affect human rights, it contradicts human rights through the conduct of its constitutional organs, thereby violating its negative duties.

Can the US Government Use Treason Laws to Silence a HRD’s Dissent?

In the 1700s, courts found “letters of advice and correspondence…to enable [enemies of the US] to annoy us or to defend themselves, written and sent in order to be delivered…” may constitute an overt act of treason.[18] However, I disagree with this law in part, as anything could be considered “correspondence” that “annoys” the US. Indeed, history is full of examples of individuals who spoke out against US injustice and persecution while abroad, like Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, James Meredith and Marian Wright to name a few.

“The American people have this to learn: that were justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property is safe.”

Fredrick Douglass

“I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticise her perpetually.”  

James Baldwin

  “When it comes to my rights as an American citizen and [African Americans], I am a triumphalist and an absolutist. Anything less is an insult.”

James Meredith

Moreover, if letters of advice, correspondence and annoyance were interpreted in its broadest sense, all HRDs would be in jail for educating others on their rights, and persuading international organs to investigate human rights wrongs.[19] As clarified in Grossymeyer v. United States, there must be an intention to aid the enemy or, an intent to promote its power and success.[20] This leads me to believe the US government cannot use treason laws to silence an HRD’s dissent abroad.

To be sure, the Human Rights Committee (“HRC”) asserted that restrictions imposed on free expression to protect the rights of others must be construed with care. Extreme care must also “be taken…to ensure that treason laws and similar provisions are crafted and applied in a manner that conforms to the strict requirements of para. 3.”[21] The HRC delivered another warning: It is not compatible with para. 3 to invoke such laws to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interests that does not harm national security. That is to say, States may not use treason laws to prosecute journalists, researchers, environmental activists or human rights defenders for having disseminated such information.[22]

One conclusion that can be drawn from these facts is publicizing America’s persecution of African Americans is a moral duty, not treason.

[1] Mian, Zahra N. “‘Black Identity Extremist’ or Black Dissident?: How United States v. Daniels Illustrates FBI Criminalization of Black Dissent of Law Enforcement, from COINTELPRO to Black Lives Matter.” Rutgers Race & the Law Review, vol. 21, no. 1, 2020, p. 63.

[2] Id., p. 55.

[3] Id., p. 89.

[4] Id., p. 82.

[5] Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “treason”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 17 Apr. 2023, Accessed 26 May 2023.

[6] 97 U.S. 39 (1877).

[7] Warren, Charles. “What Is Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy?” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 27, no. 3, 1918, pp. 331–47. JSTOR, Accessed 22 May 2023. See p. 336.

[8] Id., p. 346.

[9] General Assembly. “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect.” United Nations, 12 Jan. 2009,

[10] Inquiry Commission. “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against the People of African Descent in the United States, 2021,”, p. 119, para 438.

[11] Fabre, Cécile. “The Morality of Treason.” Law and Philosophy. 26 Jun. 2020, pp. 427-461. Springer, See p. 446.

[12] General Assembly. “Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” OHCHR, 1999,

[13] Supra, note 11, p. 446.

[14] Id., p. 451.

[15] In my case, human rights violations against African Americans.

[16] Supra, note 7, p. 339.

[17]  325 U.S. 1 (1945)

[18] Supra, note 7, p. 346.

[19] Supra, note 12, Arts. 9, 12 and 16.

[20] (1868) 4 Ct. C1. 1, 13.

[21] HRC. “General Comment No. 34 Article 19: Freedoms of Opinion and Expression.” CCPR/C/GC/34, 11 Sept. 2011,

[22] Id., p. 7, para. 30.

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life

We all make mistakes. In fact, it was Catherine Pulsifer who said, “we all make them, the difference is what we do after we make the mistake, how we see the mistake – a learning experience or a failure.” Mistakes, failure, and the sheer stupidity of having been convicted can toy with an individual’s mental health and invoke feelings of embarrassment. It can also cause a person to doubt their worthiness and position in the world. If that’s you, this article will show you how to overshadow a criminal record in 6 super smart ways.

According to Kathryn Schulz, these “terrible feelings come from realizing wrongness, not the feeling of actually being wrong. Because often, people are wrong for a while before they realize it, and in that intervening time, being wrong feels eerily like being right.”[1]

But what if after serving a sentence and acknowledging the wrong, the individual is limited by public opinion, harshly criticized by family members, and still encounter difficulties in the arena of gaining access to employment?

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life Now

In approaching this issue, one should note that change can be daunting for the de-centered self, and even, most of society. Individuals who enter their moral career will face challenges from a fraction of members of the establishment, as they will seek to put a ‘glass ceiling’ between that individual and what they want to accomplish. This barrier can take the form of publishing the individuals’ past on the internet and  faillisting them from future employment opportunities. In view of this, it’s quite likely that individuals seeking a second chance may not know exactly how to overshadow their criminal record.

Sit With the Truth

First, sit with the truth. It is generally agreed today that previously incarcerated persons have accepted the wrong. While it may not be possible to make amends for the wrong in every case, I believe one of the smartest ways to overshadow a criminal record is to sit with the truth. This is often done within the confines of a prison cell or in isolation. According to Erving Goffman, this ‘mortifications of the self’ or sitting out period, makes it easier to eradicate the old self and create a new one.

Create the Best Ascription of Yourself is How to Overshadow a Criminal Record

Second, create the best ascription of you. An ascription gives, imputes, or attributes certain features to a person without justification. Let’s say an individual volunteers at a homeless shelter and uploads several photos of their action on social media. People may see them as being reliable, selfless, and passionate about social causes. Another way an individual can create the best ascription of themselves is to start their own business. For example, if an individual opens a barber shop and donates a percentage of the proceeds to a victim’s fund, people may associate that person with philanthropy and ‘giving back.’ As can be seen, these attributes are starkly different from terms such as inmate, offender, and criminal.

Ask Search Engines to Remove Negative Results

Third, ask webmasters to remove these negative results from their websites. For example, under the Right to Be Forgotten law in Ireland, people can request search engines to rectify or erase search engine results that are inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, or no longer relevant. This is arduous to accomplish in other jurisdictions outside of the EU, which will be discussed in another article. Be that it may, it is settled law that even individuals with criminal convictions have a right to privacy, and the right to be left alone.

Educate Others on Differential Association is How to Overshadow a Criminal Record

Fourth, individuals should educate those around them on what Edwin H. Sutherland refers to as differential association. While and individual may be wholly responsible for the commission of past criminal conduct, crime is often learnt by individuals in primary groups whose members were criminally inclined. It is often thought that previously incarcerated individuals become criminal by being socialized, in that, the weight of views favourable to crime exceeds those that encourage them to be law-abiding.[2] At times, individuals are merely a product of their environment.

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life By Understanding the Hierarchy of Credibility

Fifth, understand the hierarchy of credibility. According to Howard S. Becker, those at the top (individuals without a criminal past) usually appear much more credible than those at the bottom.[3]  While Becker’s specifically mentioned those in an organization or society as being at the top, we cannot ignore the fact that previously incarcerated individuals are treated as an underclass. As a previously incarcerated person or underdog, the individual might be so completely discredited by a criminal record, as effectively to have no voice at all.[4]

While some employers might sympathize with, for example, marijuana users, it is hard to imagine many employers feeling obliged to assist ‘thieves’ or ‘crack cocaine dealers’ in their search for work. When this happens, use vocabularies of motive. These are the verbalizations of motives and intentions a person uses, not just to describe their actions, but also to justify them to others. For example:

“I burglarized that home when I was 21-years-old because I lived in an environment where I had to fend for myself. I was wrong. But now, I have changed, and I have made amends to my victims….”

“You should hire me for the following reasons: first, as a previously incarcerated individual, my lived-experience placed me directly in environments to understand crime and its impacts on people of color and the community….”

“The truth of the matter is that the content you are seeing online about me is factually incorrect. While that content may be persuasive because it is contained on a government website, its important to know [explain]….”

I understand there will be circumstances where the opportunity to explain convictions will be foreclosed; however, an individual should not allow this to choke off the flow of their enthusiasm or their resolve to create the best ascription of themselves. Where possible, individuals should explain the nature of their convictions in their cover letter or insert it into the objective on their CV.

For example, if an individual is applying for a job in home security, an objective may be “I used to steal stuff for a living, but I left that game behind years ago. I seek to use my criminal skills to test the security devices of corporations and to use my criminal “know how” to help make security devices more effective.”

Own Your Rite of Passage is How to Overshadow a Criminal Record

The sixth and final way on how to overshadow a criminal record is to own your rite of passage by drawing public attention to the changes in your status and social identity. You may also want to document how you handle the strong emotions that may be involved in such a transition.[5] As a previously incarcerated individual, pupil in society will use you as a scapegoat for their ignorance, phobias, political ideology, biases, and frustrations. When employers are unable to identify the real source of their own problems—having identified the source—are unable to challenge it, they may turn on some convenient target—you.[6] Indeed, evidence demonstrates previously incarcerated persons are disproportionately the victims of scapegoating. Thus, it has been argued that police should stop making mugshots public, as it only compounds the problem.

While this is not to be used as a ruse to justify prior criminal conduct, it is your right to change the course of your life. If English poet, John Marston, were alive today, he’d tell you, “Every man has a right to change, a chance of forgiveness.”

Overshadowing the past is the death of the subject. With these 6 super smart ways, I am confident these tools will be the demise of how perhaps your criminal record will be used as an unquestionable reference point, and how, employers may judge it in the future.

How to Overshadow a Criminal Record and Move On With Your Life was Originally published on November 24, 2022.

[1] Mindshift. (2015). Why Making Mistakes Is What Makes Us Human. KQED. Available at:

[2] Bruce, S. & Yearley, S. (2006). Differential Association. In The Sage Dictionary of Sociology. SAGE Publications Ltd. See pp. 71-72.

[3] Id., Hierarchy of Credibility, p. 135.

[4] Id.

[5] Id., Rite of Passage, p. 263.

[6] Id., Scapegoating, p. 269.

Opinion: President Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Privilege to Make it Easier for Americans to Reintegrate

Opinion: President Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Privilege to Make it Easier for Americans to Reintegrate

Opinion: President Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Privilege to Make it Easier for Americans to Reintegrate.

The World Prison Brief puts the U.S. at number one at incarcerating the most people in the world. With over 2 million Americans incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails, approximately 70 million are left with criminal records, raising the question as to whether there is a fresh start for incarcerated Americans.

Vox’s Senior Policy Reporter, Rachel M. Cohen, expressed that job applicants with criminal records are half as likely as those without them to get a callback or job offer. Moreover, Sen. Maria Elena Durazo found “about 75 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are still unemployed after a year of their release.” These views are consistent with Gabriel Chin’s research, who found that a conviction can restrict one’s ability to live in public housing; to obtain government licenses and permits, and to receive other benefits.

The denial of employment and housing opportunities, and the deprivation of privileges and rights due to a past criminal conviction is often referred to as collateral consequences. That is to say, collateral consequences are legal disabilities imposed by law as a result of a criminal conviction, regardless of whether a convicted individual serves any time incarcerated.

“One of the things I never been accused of is not caring for people.”

President Joe Biden

The secret nature of collateral consequences, as Chin asserts in Reforming Criminal Justice: Punishment, Incarceration, and Release, has resulted in a criminal justice system that is arbitrary, unpredictable, costly, unfair, and in some ways counterproductive.” For example, dozens of sites who publish booking photos in the U.S. are demanding payment for their removal. Third party individuals are also republishing the mugshots to cyberbully and shame those who were previously incarcerated. Although the alleged owners were eventually arrested on charges of extortion, money laundering, and identity theft in 2016, similar websites remain accessible online without constraint. 

President Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Privilege to Make it Easier for Americans to Reintegrate by Taking Most Mugshots Offline.

While mugshots are not considered public records at a federal level, the government’s position has precluded Americans from successfully claiming infringements on their private life against private media reportings. To illustrate this point, one need only refer to the government’s statement in Google Spain, where it ridiculed the European Court of Justice’s recognition of the right to be forgotten, arguing that such right remains inapplicable in the nation. 

Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Privilege to Make it Easier for Americans to Reintegrate May 23, 2023 by Quianna Canada
Courtesy of Quianna Canada

It is worth stating at this point that the judicial branch has held collateral consequences are not punishment. Therefore, collateral consequences do not come within the gambit of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments, or the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy. 

President Joe Biden Should Use His Executive Power to Expand Automatic Sealing Eligibility for PIAs.

When previously incarcerated Americans (“PIAs”) cannot reintegrate into society, they are likely to recidivate to support themselves and their families. That is why, in my opinion, President Joe Biden should use his executive power to expand automatic sealing eligibility for PIAs. How would this look? An examination of Durazo’s bill, if passed, would give all PIAs, except registered sex offenders, the opportunity to have their convictions sealed. PIAs with violent, serious felony records would not be offered the automatic “clean slate.” However, they could petition to have their records sealed too.

It cannot be denied that the respect of one’s private life finds no explicit direct protection in the U.S. Constitution. Be that as it may, it is settled law amongst human rights courts that even individuals with criminal convictions have a right to privacy, and the right to be left alone. The state of California has created a template; the only action for the Biden administration to take is directing federal officials and administrative agencies to expand automatic sealing eligibility for PIAs.

If one weighs the pros and the cons, one soon realizes that collateral consequences and the shaming of American citizens by publicizing their mugshots only compounds the problem. It is for this reason that President Biden should alleviate the expenditure of energy used to help PIAs reintegrate by making use of his Executive power to seal their felony convictions. This executive action will show both, the U.S. and other nations, that the administration truly cares about its people.

Originally published November 22, 2022.

Does the United States Have an Obligation to Provide Adequate Housing?

Does the United States Have an Obligation to Provide Adequate Housing?

Does the United States Have an Obligation to Provide Adequate Housing?

Homelessness Persons Defined in International Law

The United Nations has defined homeless households as “households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in any other space, on a more or less random basis.”[1]

Who Figures Strongly in the Homelessness Demographic?

Black Americans in the US strongly figure in the homelessness demographic. It is well known and widely acknowledged that Black adults have been systematically denied—often explicitly by the law itself—equal civil rights and myriad socio-economic opportunities in the US[2] that has resulted in their homelessness state.

Why Are Black Americans Homeless in the United States?

The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has highlighted that poverty is a common denominator in the experience of people experiencing homelessness.[3] Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked.[4]

Concentrated poverty and residential segregation have increased during the post-civil rights era creating settings in which the behaviours that define antisocial personality, as seen with the Neely and Brown cases, are more likely to reflect the social environment rather than individual psychopathology.[5] To be sure, Rhee and Rosenheck found race-based inequalities in lifetime homelessness were primarily associated with differences in income, incarceration history, exposure to traumatic events, and to a lesser extent by antisocial personality disorder, age and parental drug use.[6]  

According to General Resolution 34, States should develop and implement policies and projects aimed at avoiding the segregation of communities in housing, such as Black Americans. The involvement of “communities of people of African descent” should be seen “as partners in housing project construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance.”[7]

Does the United States Have an Obligation to Provide Adequate Housing?

What Does the Right to Adequate Housing Guarantee?

While some articles claim that Americans are provided a bundle of protections through the Fair Housing Act, research demonstrates there are still particularly high levels of segregation in metropolitan areas with large Black populations. Indeed, Jargowsky, Ding and Fletcher found the racial and economic segregation in the nation points to the failure of the US to fully implement the FHA, particularly the law’s directive to affirmatively further fair housing. The Researchers also stated the large goal of integrated living patterns – the polar opposite of “two societies…separate and unequal” – has not been achieved. In other words, the patterns of Jim Crow are still alive.

The Obligation to Fulfil

Obligations to protect rest primarily with the US legislature, who is required to adopt laws ensuring that housing is available for people experiencing homelessness and persons in distress.[10] Indeed, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has called homelessness “perhaps the most visible and most severe symptom of the lack of respect for the right to adequate housing.”[11] States’ obligations towards the full realization of the right to adequate housing include taking measures to prevent homelessness.[12] Under the obligation to fulfil, the US must prevent and address homelessness; provide the physical infrastructure required for housing to be considered adequate, or ensure adequate housing to individuals or groups unable, for reasons beyond their control, to enjoy the right to adequate housing, notably through housing subsidies and other measures.[13]

[1] UN. “The Right to Adequate Housing.” United Nations Office of the High Commissioner, Accessed 15 May 2023.

[2] Id.

[3] Id., p. 22

[4] National Coalition for the Homeless. “Why Are People Homeless?” Why Are People Homeless?, Accessed 15 May 2023.

[5] Id., p. 168.

[6] Rhee, Taeho Greg, and Robert A Rosenheck. “Why Are Black Adults Over-Represented among Individuals Who Have Experienced Lifetime Homelessness? Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition Analysis of Homelessness among US Male Adults.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2020,, p. 167.

[7] Thornberry, Patrick. “The Right to Housing.” International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, Croydon, 2016, p. 370.

[8] Kälin, Walter, and Künzli, Jörg. The Right to Adequate Housing. The Law of International Human Rights Protection. Oxford University Press, 2019, p. 300.

[9] Id.

[10] Id., p. 302.

[11] Supra, note 1, p. 21.

[12] Id., p. 23.

[13] Id., p. 34.

Calls for Accountability Grow as HRD Quianna Canada Condemns Shooting of Trans Organizer, Banko Brown

Calls for Accountability Grow as HRD Quianna Canada Condemns Shooting of Trans Organizer, Banko Brown

Calls for Accountability Grow as HRD Quianna Canada Condemns Shooting of Trans Organizer, Banko Brown

To Honorable Olivier De Schutter and the Esteemed Members of the Human Rights Committee,

I am writing to urge you to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of Banko Brown, an American trans organizer, whose life was taken by a security guard on April 27, 2023. The tragic event has left not only his loved ones, but also the entire LGBTQ community he was fighting for, devastated and fearful for their safety.

The Walgreens security guard stopped Brown for shoplifting, and afterwards, a confrontation ensued. During the confrontation, the security guard fatally shot Brown. Several US security guards have gunned down shoplifters in the US, raising the question as to whether shoplifting is now punishable by death in the nation.

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life. It also provides for specific conditions for the imposition of the death penalty with respect to countries that have not yet abolished it. Although the US ratified the Covenant on June 08, 1992, individual citizens cannot bring a complaint under the protocol.

The Human Rights Committee has articulated that countries such as the US—that have not abolished the death penalty—only may impose the death penalty for the most serious crimes. This means the US must interpret the term “most serious crimes” restrictively and should appertain only to crimes of extreme gravity, involving intentional killing. Evidence indicates that Brown was unarmed. Crimes not resulting directly and intentionally in death, such as economic crimes, can never serve as the basis for the imposition of the death penalty under Article 6.

Calls for Accountability Grow as HRD Quianna Canada Condemns Shooting of Trans Organizer, Banko Brown and Strangulation of Jordan Neely

The murder of Brown is not just a crime against an individual, but an attack on the fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law. As with Jordan Neely, Brown could not fully enjoy his rights, such as the right to food, because he could not afford to buy adequate food. I would even go so far as to say that Brown was also unable to obtain food because of the persistent patterns of discrimination in political and social participation in the US.

How the U.S. Government Failed Brown:

Right to Adequate Housing: the US Government has not fulfilled its obligation to protect homeless persons nationwide. As per the UN, States should regulate the housing and rental markets in a way that promotes and protects the right to adequate housing.

Right to Adequate Food: Food was not available, accessible or adequate for Brown. While there is no right to be fed by the Government, Brown does have a right to feed himself in dignity (Right to Adequate Food, p. 3). Whenever individuals or groups are unable, for reasons beyond their control, to enjoy the right to food by the means at their disposal, the US has the obligation to provide. An example provided by the UN is providing food assistance or ensuring social safety nets for the most deprived.

Links between Brown’s Human Right to Food and Other human rights:

The right to life. When people are not able to feed themselves, they face the risk of death by starvation, malnutrition or resulting illnesses.

The murder of Brown and Neely sends a chilling message to other houseless individuals that their lives are at risk. Indeed, the murder of impoverished persons is a broader problem with vigilante justice in the US. It may indicate a lack of respect for human rights, embolden a culture of impunity for those who commit crimes against homeless persons, or may indicate state-sanctioned violence.

As the world’s leading intergovernmental organization promoting peace, justice, and human rights, the UN has a responsibility to investigate such cases and hold those responsible accountable. The UN must send a strong message that the murder of homeless persons will not be tolerated and that those responsible must face justice.

I therefore call on the UN to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the murder Brown and Neely, and to seek information as to why the perpetrators are not being brought to justice. It is critical that the UN take action to prevent further attacks on homeless persons in the US, and to uphold the values of democracy, freedom, and justice that are at the core of its mission.


Journey to the Center

Flawed Reasoning: Sean Fitzgerald’s Arguments Fail to Stand Up to Scrutiny in the Jordan Neely Case

Flawed Reasoning: Sean Fitzgerald’s Arguments Fail to Stand Up to Scrutiny in the Jordan Neely Case

Flawed Reasoning: Sean Fitzgerald’s Arguments Fail to Stand Up to Scrutiny in the Jordan Neely Case

Sean Fitzgerald is a popular YouTube commentator who reacts to political controversies in the media. On May 08, 2023, Fitzgerald published Leftists Turn Jordan Neely Into Floyd 2.0 to his YouTube Channel Actual Justice Warrior, where he made several claims about the Jordan Neely case that fail to stand up to scrutiny.

While I will address most of Fitzgerald’s claims in this article, I will not address claims that Fitzgerald did not make himself. For instance, I will not evaluate the arguments made by Briahna Joy Gray and Robby Soave. I will also not address Fitzgerald’s claim that New Yorkers did not protest the strangulation of Jordan Neely, as this claim is easily disproven in several YouTube videos, such as the protest on the subway train tracks. With this in mind, I will not address the argument on that, as I feel it does not go to the core of Fitzgerald’s better claims.

However, there are 4 claims Fitzgerald makes in his video that I will address, and they are:

(1) Whether Black Americans Are Punished for Crimes

(2) Whether Daniel Penny Did Not Intend to Kill Jordan Neely

(3) Whether No Bystanders Cautioned Daniel Penny About His Strangulation of Jordan Neely

(4) Whether Jordan Neely’s Predicament is the Direct Result of State’s Failure to Incarcerate

Whether Black Americans Are Punished for Crimes

First, Fitzgerald believes “If you see a Black person committing a crime and you’re White – let it go.” Fitzgerald also thinks that Black people have achieved a “God tier status,” and that, victims of alleged Black criminality go unpunished.

It is an incontrovertible fact that Black Americans are disproportionately punished for crimes. The arrests of Black Americans far outweigh that of White Americans in the United States (6,109 vs. 2,795 per 100,000).[1] Further, Prison Policy Initiative found there were more Black Americans imprisoned in the country (2,306 v. 450 per 100,000).[2] Thus, it would seem, that Black Americans are punished for crimes.

Another claim Fitzgerald makes is that if the shoe were on the other foot, and a Black marine killed someone, the public would not be hearing about it. Is this true? Absolutely not. In 2022, a Black army veteran named Andrew Johnson was arrested in San Jose for attempted murder.[3] However, Johnson refused to plead guilty, insisting that he was defending himself during a confrontation. Irrespective of this defense, Johnson was arrested and spent 16 months in solitary confinement.

Although Fitzgerald fallaciously argues Black Americans are not punished for crimes in the United States, and that they can harm homeless people and evade arrest, this is a baseless claim. In 2022, a Black man was arrested and found guilty of shooting a homeless man outside of his apartment.[4]

As can be seen, Black Americans are punished for crimes in the United States. Even when Black Americans claim self-defense, as with the case of Johnson or, when they do not actually commit the alleged crime, they are imprisoned. A conclusion that can be drawn from these facts is Black Americans certainly do not have the God tier status Fitzgerald believes they have in the United States.

Flawed Reasoning: Sean Fitzgerald’s Arguments Fail to Stand Up to Scrutiny in the Jordan Neely Case

Whether Daniel Penny Did Not Intend to Kill Jordan Neely

Second, Fitzgerald argues that Daniel Penny did not intend to Kill Neely. To support this claim, Fitzgerald argues that Neely was “violent” and threatening people on the subway. I concede, subway riders did report that Neely made threats and was erratic. However, Fitzgerald conveniently omits that subway riders reported that Neely was nonviolent.[5] According to Alberto Vasquez, Neely did not appear to want to attack anyone. This piece of evidence is fatal to Fitzgerald’s claim that the murder of Neely was justified.

Even if we found Penny was justified in approaching Neely,[6] as reported by subway riders, the same cannot be said for the 15-minute chokehold. As per the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, it takes 10 seconds for someone to lose consciousness from strangulation.[7] Think about it: 10 seconds. Penny knew or should have known that the length of time he had Neely in a chokehold far exceeded what was reasonable to bring him under compliance.

To be sure, Gael Strack and Casey Gwinn in the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice assert that individuals do not strangle to kill; they strangle to show they can kill. If Penny placed Neely in a chokehold for 10 seconds and released him, this would demonstrate no intent to kill. However, Penny’s chokehold lasted for 15 minutes. In view of Penny’s training as a marine and knowledge of strangulation tatics, a reasonable person would conclude that Penny did intend to kill Neely.

Whether No Bystanders Cautioned Daniel Penny About His Strangulation of Jordan Neely

Third, Fitzgerald argues that no bystanders “behind the camera” cautioned Penny about his strangulation of Neely. However, this claim is inaccurate. In the original video, a man enters the train and warns Penny that the chokehold could be lethal.[8] For instance, the man said “If you suffocate him, that’s it.” The man also said, “You don’t want to catch a murder charge.” The man warned Penny two minutes into the chokehold.[9] Despite this warning, Penny continued to strangle Neely.

Whether Jordan Neely’s Predicament is the Direct Result of State’s Failure to Incarcerate

Fourth, Fitzgerald claims that Neely’s predicament is the direct result of the State’s failure to incarcerate him. However, the bucket which Fitzgerald attempts to place this watery claim inside cannot sustain it. The argument that the State should not have released Neely is undemocratic, as it suggest that criminality equals a life sentence of imprisonment. Humans are not infallible; they often make mistakes. Indeed, the media has consistently reminded us that Neely has made his share. However, if we take a glimpse at the government’s role in Neely’s predicament, we begin to understand that our own government, either advertently or inadvertently, hobbled this man by creating barriers that made it nearly impossible for him to reintegrate into society, such as persistent patterns of discrimination in political and social participation in the country.


I have shown that Black Americans are disproportionately punished for crimes. I have further shown Black Americans are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated in the US. Fitzgerald’s own evidence indicates that Penny most likely intended to kill Neely. The sources provided clearly illustrate bystanders cautioned Penny about his strangulation of Neely. My own case for Neely demonstrates his predicament is not the direct result of the State’s failure to incarcerate. Based on these reasons, it can be argued that Sean Fitzgerald’s arguments fail to stand up to scrutiny in the Jordan Neely case.

[1] OJJDP. (2018). Arrest rates by offense and race, 2018. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

[2] Prison Policy Initiative. (n.d.). U.S. incarceration rates by race. U.S. incarceration rates by race | Prison Policy Initiative.

[3] Trent, S. (2022, June 15). A Black Army vet spent 16 months in solitary. then a jury heard the evidence against him. The Washington Post.

[4] Clement, I. (2022, December 2). Buffalo man found guilty for shooting homeless man outside of his apartment. WKBW 7 News Buffalo.

[5] Gulino, E. (2023). Jordan Neely wasn’t just killed – he was failed by bystanders around him. Jordan Neely & The Dangers Of The Bystander Effect.

[6] Id.

[7] (2016, April 4). Strangulation Can Leave Long Lasting Injuries. Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.

[8] Aceves, P., & Stieb, M. (2023, May 7). The outrage over Jordan Neely’s killing isn’t going away. Intelligencer.,to%20catch%20a%20murder%20charge.%E2%80%9D

[9] Id.

The Long Overdue Conversation: Revisiting the Theme of Political Abuse of Psychiatry and the Black American

The Long Overdue Conversation: Revisiting the Theme of Political Abuse of Psychiatry and the Black American

The Long Overdue Conversation: Revisiting the Theme of Political Abuse of Psychiatry and the Black American

Psychiatry is a powerful tool that can be used for good. Yet today, political figures and powerful institutions are using this medical specialty to undermine victims of abuse, oppression and injustice.

The Long Overdue Conversation: Revisiting the Theme of Political Abuse of Psychiatry and the Black American

Political figures and powerful institutions have used psychiatry to discredit people living on the fringe, such as previously incarcerated individuals and homeless persons. A prime example is the media’s framing of Jordan Neely, who died on May 01, 2023 by asphyxia. While I do not condone violence or the allegations made against Neely, disenfranchised persons like him sometimes lack the skills, such as tact, to assertively communicate their needs, as we seen in several videos circulating on the internet. Even when they have the capacity to communicate their needs effectively, individuals in positions of power will stereotype them or, interpret their plight as an act of violence. Indeed, Tristan McGeorge and Dinesh Bhugra found psychiatrists were more likely to misdiagnose Black patients as more dangerous and violent. They also found that psychiatrists were more likely to diagnose Schizophrenia and overly suspicious personality disorders in those they believed were Black Americans.[1]

Why Powerful Institutions Use Schizophrenia to Diagnose Black Americans

Political figures and powerful institutions use Schizophrenia to diagnose Black Americans because it can discredit their claims. It also makes it easier for those in power to isolate to facilitate abuse. For example, if a homeless Black person protests their conditions, political figures and powerful institutions can use Schizophrenia to suggest that the victim is simply mentally ill, and therefore, their complaints should not be taken seriously. While some people may show signs of disease, mental health professionals should make sure that the diagnosis is correct and not influence by politics.

Another way political figures and powerful institutions use psychiatry to undermine victims is through the use of involuntary commitment, detention or imprisonment. Involuntary commitment is when an individual is forcibly hospitalized or detained in a psychiatric facility, detention center or jail against their will. This can be used as a tool of oppression, especially when it is used to silence homeless persons, political dissidents or others who are speaking out against their inhumane conditions. By labeling someone as mentally ill and forcibly detaining them, political figures and powerful institutions can effectively silence their voices and undermine their credibility.

In 1991, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 46/119: The UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and for the Improvement for Mental Health Care (hereinafter MI Principles). Of the 25 Principles, number 4 is potentially relevant to institutional racism in mental health care:

4 (2) A determination of mental illness shall never be made on the basis of political, economic or social status, or membership of a cultural, racial or religious group, or any other reason not directly relevant to mental health status.

It has been further suggested that the ideology of racism has been incorporated into psychiatry resulting in an emphasis on individualized pathology, with insufficient attention paid to social pressures such as race and culture.[2] According to Principle 4:

4 (3) Family or professional conflict, or non-conformity with moral, social, cultural or political values or religious beliefs prevailing in a person’s community, shall never be a determining factor in diagnosing mental illness.

The misuse of psychiatry is not just a historical problem, it is also a contemporary one. As we seen with the Neely case, political figures and powerful institutions will use psychiatry to undermine victims and maintain control over political messages. By raising awareness of this issue and holding those in power to account, together, we can put an end to this insidious practice.


[1] McGeorge, Tristan, and Dinesh Bhugra, ‘Race Equality in Mental Health’, in Michael Dudley, Derrick Silove, and Fran Gale (eds), Mental Health and Human Rights: Vision, praxis, and courage (Oxford, 2012; online edn, Oxford Academic, 1 Feb. 2013),, accessed 8 May 2023.

[2] Id. p. 140.

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