I. Frequent Infringement on Civil Rights
The United States reported frequent occurrence of violent crime cases, rampant gun crimes and the abuse of power by public officers, while surveillance was unchecked and unscrupulous and press freedom was hollow.
Serious violent crimes took place frequently. According to the 2017 edition of the FBI's annual report, Crime in the United States, released in September 2018, there were an estimated 1,247,321 violent crimes, including 17,284 incidents of murder, 135,755 rapes, 810,825 aggravated assaults, as well as 319,356 robberies. Among the cases, 72.6 percent of murders, 40.6 percent of robberies, and 26.3 percent of aggravated assaults were committed with firearms (www.ucr.fbi.gov). Chicago was named as one of the most dangerous big cities in the United States, as hundreds of people were murdered each year in recent years. On August 4 and 5, 74 people in the city were shot, and 12 of them died. Tens of thousands of young Americans fled from the cities with rampant violent crimes (Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2018).
Gun violence continued to be rampant. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the United States reported 57,103 incidents of gun violence, resulting in 14,717 deaths, 28,172 injuries, including casualties of 3,502 juveniles (www.gunviolencearchive.org, data recorded on February 24, 2019). On May 18, in a mass shooting in the Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and wounded more than 10 others with a shotgun and a pistol. Explosive devices were found inside the school and nearby (www.washingtonpost.com, May 19, 2018). On November 8, Marine Corps veteran Ian David Long broke into a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, fatally shooting 12 people and wounding many (www.nbcnews.com, November 9, 2018). The Huffington Post reported on December 6 that gun violence has shortened the life expectancy of Americans by nearly 2.5 years, with shooting driving down the average lifespan of African-Americans by 4.14 years, based on official data on gun deaths between2000 and 2016.
Press freedom suffered from unprecedented blow. According to a May 2, 2018 report from the international non-governmental organization Article 19, the environment for the press in the United States has further deteriorated, with journalists occasionally being attacked, searched, arrested, intercepted at borders, and restricted from publishing public information. The U.S. government has often publicly and vehemently accused the media and journalists of making "fake news," creating an intimidating and hostile environment. Thomas Huges, executive director of Article 19, pointed out that threats to press freedom in the United States have been climbing alarmingly in recent years (www.article19.org, May 2, 2018). Newsweek published a story on August 16 that the standoff between the U.S. government and media in the past year has eroded the country's press freedom.
The legitimate rights of interviewing by reporters were infringed. On November 7, 2018, to stop White House correspondent from CNN from asking follow-up questions, staff at the White House attempted to take the microphone away from the correspondent and revoked his press pass (uk.reuters.com, November 19, 2018). The Columbia Journalism Review reported on January 19 last year that the United States arrested journalists 34 times in 2017, nine of whom were accused of felony. The equipments of 15 journalists were confiscated, while 44 journalists suffered from personal attacks.
Religious intolerance remarks were on the rise. The Guardian reported on October 22, 2018 that during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, anti-Muslim rhetoric increased dramatically, with report showing that conspiracy theories targeting Muslims have increasingly entered the political mainstream. "More than a third have claimed that Muslims are inherently violent or pose an imminent threat," the report found, adding that "just under a third of the candidates considered have called for Muslims to be denied basic rights or declared that Islam is not a religion."
Online surveillance by the U.S. government infringed individual privacy. It has become a common practice by the NSA, FBI, and CIA to gather and search through American's international emails, internet calls, and chats without obtaining a warrant. The PRISM program operates around the clock, wiretapping emails, Facebook messages, Google chats, Skype calls and the like without authorization (www.aclu.org, August 22, 2018).
A large number of protesters were arrested. The Chicago Tribune reported on June 28, 2018 that 575 people were arrested while protesting against the Trump administration's immigration policy in Washington D.C., most of whom were female. From September 4 to 6, U.S. Capitol Police arrested 212 people that protested Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, and another 300-plus protestors were arrested on October 4 (chicagotribune.com, June 28, 2018; thehill.com, September 6, 2018; edition.cnn.com, October 5, 2018). Reuters reported on December 11 that 32 religious leaders and activists were arrested at the U.S. border fence in San Diego during a protest to call for an end to the detention and deportation of the Central American migrants.
Miscarriage of justice resulted in wrongful convictions. In May, 2018 Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the UN, published a report saying that in the U.S. justice system, wealthy defendants are allowed to regain their freedom through bails while poor defendants have no choice but to stay in jail. The New Yorker reported on February 6 that a jury in Bronx of New York City vindicated Edward Garry's 23-year quest to clear his name, finding him not guilty of a 1995 murder (newyorker.com, February 6, 2018).
The Washington Post reported on December 19, 2018 that a man from Baltimore was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder. During the investigation of the case, local police did not investigate his alibi or other suspects, resulting in him serving 27 years in prison.
Public officers abusively exercised violence. According to reports released on the website of the U.S. Department of Justice on July 11 and November 8, former private prisoner transport officer Eric Scott Kindley committed, during his tenure, several armed sexual abuses or assaults on female prisoners, resulting in severe bodily and emotional harms to the victims. Several officers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana were found to have beaten an inmate who was handcuffed and shackled, leaving the inmate with severe injuries. They also conspired to cover up the beating (www.justice.gov). The New York Daily News reported on December 18, 2018, citing the Associated Press, that two South Florida prison guards assaulted and intimidated several young inmates, severely infringing the rights of those detained.