Press Clip Source: Medium Atrocities Prevention
Link to source: Here
Link to sign the letter: Here


Warning Statement on the Potential for Mass Atrocities in the United StatesWe are a nonpartisan group of former and current atrocities prevention, human rights, humanitarian, counterterrorism, and democratization professionals, advocates, academics, and practitioners. We have worked in war zones, conflict-affected countries, fragile states, and in countries under authoritarian rule. Seeing first-hand and learning directly from the people of those nations, we know people who have experienced violent reprisals for their attempts to demand change from their governments through peaceful protest, and we have seen what failure to prevent means. No country is immune to political violence, especially countries that have a history of political violence.

We write to issue an unequivocal warning to the leaders of the United States of America that without urgent action the country risks having a mass atrocity event and constitutional crisis that will threaten both human security and the future of the republic. Mass atrocities are defined as large-scale, systematic, violence against civilians.

Like millions around the world, we watched in horror as George Floyd was choked to death by a white police officer in the city of Minneapolis, as three other officers also kneeled on Floyd or stood by, ignoring his pleas that he could not breathe. This murder lit a match beneath an aggrieved public, reeling from decades of continued state violence against innocent populations and a pandemic that has taken over 100,000 American lives, disproportionately affected Black and lower-income Americans. George Floyd’s murder, following the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many more, took place against a mounting backdrop of deliberate dehumanization policies and statements by this administration against a number of minority populations — from asylum seekers and immigrants to American-born minority groups.

For three and a half years, this administration has fanned the flames of division and discrimination in our country. It has emboldened the reorganization of violent white supremacist groups and failed to unite the country in times of crisis. The president’s consistent verbal attacks against the free press, often dubbing them the “enemy of the people,” cannot be ignored as we saw law enforcement target members of the press directly during protests over the past weeks.

We have seen the selective mass deployment of National Guard units and police with tactical gear, excessive use of tear gas and pepper spray, and disproportionate use of violence against unarmed civilians. Deployment of the National Guard, calls to “send in the troops,” and unmarked law enforcement officers who do not have any identifying credentials, demonstrate alarming warning signs we have witnessed in countless other deteriorating situations, where a civilian government mobilizes multiple security actors on the unarmed, civilian population it claims to represent. It also shows the willingness to swiftly and unjustifiably deny Americans their basic constitutional rights to assemble and participate in their democracy.

Events over the past few weeks, particularly those of Monday, June 1, 2020 in Washington DC, show that adequate checks and balances are eroding to unprecedented levels in the United States. Paramount to stopping this trajectory is protecting civilians against excessive state violence and safeguarding against future potential state abuses as we approach tense national elections in November.

One of our most proud traditions is the peaceful transfer of power. This year, we run the risk of breaking that tradition. The threat of mass violence before or after the election must be taken seriously.

We, the undersigned, have seen how quickly crises can escalate and how important early action is in preventing mass violence. To prevent mass atrocity crimes against civilians in the coming months we urge the following:

  1. President Trump must publicly recall his intent to designate the loosely aligned “Antifa” as a domestic terrorist organization. The sweeping designation of a loosely aligned group is a political tactic used throughout history to create conditions conducive for mass detention, torture, and mass killing of politically inconvenient adversaries. The President should clarify, in public, and issue an official statement retracting his previous comments.
  2. Governors, mayors, and county officials must regain complete control over the police and mandate an immediate cessation of violence against civilians and the press. The excessive use of force against civilians, the apparent targeting of members of the press, countless injuries, and mass arrests are dangerous warning signs of a security sector out of control. As we have witnessed in many other countries, prior to mass atrocities, such actions as these have exacerbated tensions, honed the willingness of state security actors to attack their fellow citizens, and deaden the voices of opposition and free press coverage on such developments to force accountability and checks on such abuses of power.
  3. Congress and governors should make a unified, public pledge that civilians have a right to protest peacefully and not incur state-sponsored violence from any level of the US government.
  4. Congress should take action to prohibit and impose aggressive consequences for any collaboration between any state security actors (police, National Guard, and otherwise) and unofficial armed militia or private contractors. The blurring of lines between official security forces and unofficial, community militias is a red flag of mass violence against civilian populations world over. Additionally, Congress should urge the Attorney General to suspend the deployment of federal law enforcement officers, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency and Federal Bureau of Prisons, to police protesters.
  5. Congress must ensure that there are no delays to the November 2020 elections and should prepare for the possibility that President Trump attempts to challenge the election results and refuses to relinquish power. The President’s continued rhetoric claiming that the election is being rigged and will be rife with fraud, is laying the groundwork for a contested election. The deployment of election monitors may help counter false narratives of fraud.
  6. Congress must take action to ensure our elections are safe and access to voting is secure. Clear plans and programs, including hotlines, should be available nation-wide should people see violence, denial of voting access or other irregular and disruptive activities by state, local authorities, or other groups on election day.

Finally, we do not intend for these comments and concerns to deter essential attention from the locally-led movement for racial justice in America. We offer these recommendations to provide an additional analytical layer to the overlapping crises facing the United States of America today. We stand ready to support American leaders in advancing these recommendations.


*The below list is not regularly updated. Please see this link for the most up-to-date list of signatories*

  1. Mike Brand, Independent Atrocities Prevention Advocate
  2. Elizabeth Shackelford, Former U.S. Diplomat
  3. Ernesto Verdeja, Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
  4. Katie-Jay Scott, Executive Director of iACT
  5. Jeffrey Smith, Founding Director, Vanguard Africa
  6. Richard Wilson, Professor of Human Rights
  7. Amanda Smith Byron, EdD, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Project, Portland State University
  8. Garrett Moore, Public Health official, former House of Representatives Staffer
  9. Lauren Fortgang, Director, Never Again Coalition
  10. Jeff Bachman, Professor of Genocide Studies
  11. April Slabosheski, Former Holocaust Educator
  12. Dr. Edward Houston Shearon, Curriculum & Sustainability Strategist, Congo Peace School
  13. Emily Sample, Executive Director, Raphaël Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program
  14. Jim Fussell, PrevGenocide
  15. Jobb Arnold, Menno Simons College, Department of Conflict Resolution Studies
  16. Dr. Rachel Killean, Queen’s University Belfast
  17. Robert Hitchcock, University of New Mexico
  18. Melissa Pavlik, Yale University Department of Political Science
  19. Diane Koosed, Never Again Coalition Co-Founder
  20. Hilary Matfess, Yale University
  21. Kerry Whigham, Assistant Professor of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University
  22. Hilary Earl, Professor, Nipissing University
  23. Andrew Woolford, Former President, International Association of Genocide Scholars; Professor, University of Manitoba
  24. Kelsey Lizotte, Rutgers University
  25. Dr. Antonella Regueiro, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Dialogues
  26. Sarah Minslow, Human Rights Scholar
  27. Dr. Marie Berry, Associate Professor, University of Denver
  28. Dr. Melanie O’Brien, University of Western Australia
  29. Israel Charny, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide Jerusalem
  30. Nicole Fox, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
  31. Alyssa Mathias, PhD Candidate, UCLA
  32. Monika Weisman, JD/MA Candidate, The University of Chicago
  33. Douglas Irvin-Erickson, Director, Raphael Lemkin Genocide Prevention Program and Assistant Professor, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School of Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University
  34. Stacey Mitchell, Georgia State University
  35. April Houston, Pathways for Peace Fellow
  36. Grace Weber, Harvard University
  37. Karen Frostig, Associate Professor, Lesley University
  38. Nadia Rubaii, Co-Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), Binghamton University
  39. Jocelyn Kelly, Director, Program on Gender, Rights and Resilience
  40. Daniel Solomon, Georgetown University
  41. Candace Rondeaux, Senior Fellow, New America and Professor of Practice, Arizona State University
  42. Hollie Nyseth Brehm, Associate Professor of Sociology
  43. Ali Mahmoud, Director, Kurdistan Without Genocide
  44. Casey Parnis, Student, Stockton University MAHG Program
  45. Rachel Cunliffe, Portland State University
  46. Elizabeth Blackney, Former Senior Media Advisor to Dr. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate
  47. Stephen Capobianco, Assistant Director, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), Binghamton University
  48. Steven Leonard Jacobs, Professor, The University of Alabama
  49. Christi Yoder, Executive Director, Center for Genocide Research and Education
  50. Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Associate Professor, Department of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College
  51. Brielle Hill, MA Nonprofit Management and Leadership, University of Georgia
  52. James Waller, Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College
  53. Kelsey Paul Shantz, Program Officer, Mass Violence and Atrocities, Stanley Center for Peace and Security
  54. Theresa de Langis, Independent Scholar
  55. Claude Gatebuke, Executive Director — AGLAN
  56. Mark C. Hackett, Executive Director, Operation Broken Silence
  57. Mishy Lesser, Co-founder, Upstander Project
  58. Adam Mazo, Co-founder, Upstander Project
  59. Tanya Elder, Archivist
  60. Bama Athreya, Diversity Matters
  61. Robert C. Bacon, Fmr. Appointee, U.S. Department of State; current consultant, law and policy
  62. Kate English, Executive Director, Educators’ Institute for Human Rights
  63. Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Former Executive Director Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program
  64. Gkisedtanamoogk, Wampanoag; University of Maine; Maine Wabanaki TRC
  65. Madeline Rose, Former Prevention & Protection Working Group Coordinator, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  66. Sara Marti, Former Foreign Service Officer, US Department of State
  67. Rachel Locke, Director, Impact: Peace, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego
  68. Jake Phillips, J.D. Candidate, University of California, Irvine
  69. Alexandra Toma, Executive Director, Peace and Security Funders Group
  70. Lisa Schirch, Senior Research Fellow, Toda Peace Institute
  71. Rebecca Wolfe, Lecturer, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago
  72. Kate Kizer, Policy Director, Win Without War
  73. Susan Megy, United Nations Iraq
  74. Brandy Westerman, Humanitarian and International Development Professional
  75. Kathleen Fallon, Humanitarian Policy Advisor
  76. Cyrus Samii, Associate Professor of Politics, New York University
  77. Yael Zeira, Associate Professor, Syracuse University
  78. Guy Grossman, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
  79. Michael Findley, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
  80. John Gershman, Clinical Professor, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University
  81. Theo Sitther, Former Legislative Secretary for Peacebuilding Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  82. Nahomi Ichino, Associate Professor of Political Science, Emory University
  83. TW Collins, Human Rights Documentary Photographer
  84. Shukria Dellawar, Advocate
  85. Richard J. McAlexander, University of Pennsylvania
  86. Jori Breslawski, Post-doctoral Researcher, Brown University
  87. Alex Carr, Director of Operations, The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts
  88. Yifat Susskind, Executive Director, MADRE
  89. Allyson Neville, Former Prevention and Protection Working Group Coordinator at the Friends Committee on National Legislation and Former Senior Advocate at United to End Genocide
  90. Al Jubitz, President, Jubitz Family Foundation
  91. Daniel Hirschel-Burns, Yale University
  92. Elisabeth Dallas, Vice President, DT Global
  93. Lisa Fuller, Search for Common Ground/Deputy Lead-Atrocity Prevention and Early Warning Project
  94. Goran Božičević, Founder of Miramida Peacebuilding Trainings
  95. Diana Ohlbaum, Legislative Director for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  96. Julia Roig, President, PartnersGlobal
  97. Daniel Nielson, Professor, Brigham Young University
  98. Mary Stata, Former Prevention and Protection Working Group Coordinator, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  99. JD Bowers, University of Missouri and Genocide and Human Rights Institute
  100. Benjamin Linzy, Political Violence Researcher
  101. Alexandra Gordon, Advocate/Activist for ONE/CARE/USGLC
  102. Charlie Martel, Visiting Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law, and former investigative counsel, United States Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee
  103. David Palumbo-Liu, Professor, Stanford University
  104. Christian Davenport, Professor, University of Michigan
  105. Yongabi Ngoh, Senior Staff Assistant, Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP), Binghamton University
  106. Ruth Rhoads Allen, President, CDA Collaborative Learning
  107. C Michael Rich, Associate Professor, Eastern Kentucky University
  108. Annie Shiel, Protection Innovation Fellow, Center for Civilians in Conflict
  109. Adrian Willing, Analyst & National Security Professional
  110. Scott Long, Human Rights Activist
  111. Timo Leimeister, Founder of Mass Violence Awareness Initiative
  112. Holly Freewynn, Librarian, Portland, Oregon
  113. Cathy L Schneider, Professor, School of International Studies, American University
  114. Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  115. Wes Rist, Prevention & Protection Working Group
  116. Anna Meier, PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  117. Ryan Brenner, Core Strategic Member, Darfur Women Action Group
  118. Natalie Sikorski, Program Officer, Center for Civilians in Conflict
  119. Nils Gilman, Vice President of Programs, Berggruen Institute
  120. Rev. L. Daniel Pantoja, President & CEO, PeaceBuilders Community, Inc.
  121. Samantha Lakin, Transitional Justice Researcher, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University; Research Fellow, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
  122. James F. Strassmaier, Oral Historian, PNLHA
  123. Mindy Johnston, Lutheran Community Services NW, Area District Manager
  124. Natan Meir, Professor of Judaic Studies, Portland State University
  125. Luis Alfonso Miranda Pérez, Former Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
  126. Stephanie Schwartz, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California
  127. Gina Herrmann, Director, Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies, University of Oregon
  128. Glenn Mitoma, Director, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
  129. Michelle Breslauer, Formerly Institute for Economics & Peace
  130. Shannon Raj, Visiting Fellow of Practice, Oxford University
  131. Mollie Zapata, Mass Atrocities Researcher
  132. Jacob Agee, PhD Candidate, Trinity College Dublin
  133. Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, Associate Professor of Clinical Law and director of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights (CLIHHR)
  134. Frank Chalk, Professor of History, Co-founder and Research Director, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University, and former President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
  135. Mel Duncan, Founding Director, Nonviolent Peaceforce
  136. Anne Watt, Co-Founder Primary Source, global anti-racist educator center
  137. Roberta Sprague, Teacher
  138. Patricia Schechter
  139. Sonia Marie Leikam
  140. Sandra Oberdorfer
  141. Chantelle Moghadam
  142. Jenna Walmer
  143. Sarah Cox
  144. Tony Lash
  145. Christine Ashley
  146. Corrie Hulse
  147. Michele Mitchell
  148. Julia Kuperminc
  149. Sara Pressman
  150. Michael Blake
  151. Chen-Lun Chang
  152. Sarah Ford
  153. Ajit V Joshi
  154. Amber Rutland Jangha
  155. Bethany Leap
You can protect civilians who are living in or fleeing violent conflict. Your contribution will transform the world's response to conflict.
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