Sessions Backing Away from Federal Civil Rights Protections in Law Enforcement

U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is showing his racist stripes. Under the familiar guise of “local control” (read: states’ rights), the U.S. Attorney General yesterday ordered Justice Department officials to back off local law enforcement agencies when it comes to enforcing civil rights agreements:

The leader of the U.S. Justice Department has ordered federal authorities to emphasize building partnerships with local law enforcement over hard-nosed investigations of them, asking a federal judge in Baltimore to delay a hearing this week on a deal to overhaul the city’s troubled police force and casting a cloud over a host of other federal consent decrees that target unconstitutional law enforcement practices.

The new directive by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the bid to reconsider an agreement in Baltimore are the strongest signs yet that the Trump administration not only plans to scale back the number of new investigations it launches into unconstitutional policing, excessive force and other law enforcement misconduct allegations but also the likelihood it will seek to reopen agreements the Obama civil rights unit had already negotiated.

“Local control and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing,” Sessions wrote in a memo to department officials and U.S. Attorneys late Monday. “It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies” [Carrie Johnson, “Justice Department to Review All Civil Rights Agreements on Police Conduct,” NPR, 2017.04.03].

Au contraire, Jefferson Beauregard. It is as much the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that local law enforcement agencies are respecting Americans’ civil rights as it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that local school districts and state universities are respecting the civil rights of all students.

“This is terrifying,” said Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, who spent five years as the department’s chief of special litigation, overseeing investigations into 23 police departments such as New Orleans, Cleveland and Ferguson. “This raises the question of whether, under the current attorney general, the Department of Justice is going to walk away from its obligation to ensure that law enforcement across the country is following the Constitution” [Sari Horowitz, Mark Berman, and Wesley Lowery, “Sessions Orders Justice Dept. Review of All Police Reform Agreements, Including Ferguson,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2017.04.04].

The Sessions/Trump DOJ forgets all about local control when it comes to pressuring municipalities to crack down on immigration. “Local control” is an excuse, adopted when convenient, forgotten when not, for the Trump agenda of cracking down on the minorities outside his political base.


5 Responses to Sessions Backing Away from Federal Civil Rights Protections in Law Enforcement

  1. mike from iowa

    Sessions committed perjury. How is he still AG????? 5 Drumpf cabinet members lied to Congress. What the hell is going on???

  2. When the Obama administration made the decision that they would prosecute those we hire to protect us rather than the perp it created a divide between the people and law enforcement. As a result many Americans lost their trust in those we are trusting to help keep us safe. Riots, shootings, other crimes have all risen in the cities the DoJ targeted for investigations. This occurred in EVERY city targeted by the DoJ. Poor policy, poorer decision. This is a move in the right direction “the U.S. Justice Department has ordered federal authorities to emphasize building partnerships with local law enforcement over hard-nosed investigations of them”. Note the word “partnership”.

  3. mike from iowa

    Oh them poor little peace officers, they are being held to a higher standard such as it is not permissible to load down a black person with lead because you imagined your life was in danger. How does that build trust with civilians?

    Now Drumpf and perjurer/racist Sessions want to unleash the fury of wingnut hate on POC. You can just about guarantee POC body counts rising precipitously until this administration is removed from power. Unfortunately there will probably be a bloody race war before order is restored.

  4. sarge-“prosecute those we hire to protect us rather than the perp”. its called accountability. EB5. MCEC. Militarized law enforcement.

  5. OldSarg, police have great power. We have an obligation to ensure that such power is used properly and does not perpetuate institutional racism. Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump either have no understanding of institutional racism or embrace it to protect their privilege.