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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Honors Juneteenth
June 18, 2021

Human Rights First Honors Juneteenth

NEW YORK -- Today marks Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Human Rights First joins Americans across the country in celebrating Juneteenth and applauding U.S. Congress for passing and President Biden signing into law legislation declaring it a federal holiday. 

“Even as we celebrate Juneteenth, we cannot forget that the institutions of slavery remain inextricably rooted in American policy and culture,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “From the disproportionate detention of Black asylum seekers to widespread police brutality, institutionalized racism continues to hurt Black Americans and take Black lives. This Juneteenth is a moment for communities that value justice to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter.  We can only put human rights first in the United States by ensuring that every Black life is protected and respected.”

This year, Human Rights First established eliminating systemic injustice as a core goal of the organization. We advocate to curb police militarization and launched digital tools to provide journalists, researchers, partner organizations, and the public with information on police use of force. Blue Witness collects and visualizes police use-of-force incidents across the United States; SurvAI identifies force-related objects (i.e., nightstick, batons, guns) and the use of force by individual police officers in video data.

“Systems built over 400 years to devalue Black lives will not be easily changed,” Breen added. “But Human Rights First will continue to use all its tools and expertise to create a world in which every person is valued and their intrinsic human rights are safeguarded.”