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UN Experts Address Black Racial Discrimination in U.S.

A United Nations working group dispatched to investigate racial discrimination against blacks in the U.S. released its preliminary findings on Friday, saying that reparations should be looked at as a way to remedy an ugly racial past of slavery and Jim Crow laws.

The team of human rights experts heard testimony -- including in Chicago earlier this week -- from hundreds of blacks about mass incarceration, failing public schools and police killings.

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of African Americans today,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes France in a statement. She leads the working group of experts on people of African descent.

Prison reform, ending racial profiling and raising awareness about crimes against transgender people are also early recommendations from the working group. Members found the “war on drugs” to be failing, too many financial penalties against people in jail, criminalization of young people and insufficient tracking of civilians killed by police officers.

“The persistent gap in almost all the human development indicators, such as life expectancy, income and wealth, level of education, housing, employment and labor, and even food security, among African Americans and the rest of the U.S. population, reflects the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights,” Fanon Mendes France said.

In addition to Chicago, the delegation visited Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Jackson, Miss. and New York City from Jan. 9-29.

The working group report also indicated that it welcomes steps in Chicago to combat the home foreclosure crisis and to foster accountability in the police department in the wake of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting by an officer.

The working group will present its final recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

is WBEZ’s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her on Twitter @natalieymoore.

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