ALERT: Failures of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division

Today Jonathan Smith, executive director, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee during its oversight hearing on the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice under this administration. From 2010 to 2015, he served as Chief of the Division’s Special Litigation Section. The Special Litigation Section enforces the civil rights laws with regard to
law enforcement, prisons, and jails. 

For the past three and a half years, the Attorney General and political leadership of the Department have undermined the work of the Division. The Division has been conspicuously silent during this moment of national debate on race and policing.

“A simple contrast between the last administration’s response to the death of Michael Brown and this administration’s response to the death of George Floyd is illustrative… Despite repeated in-custody deaths of people of color under circumstances that suggest widespread systemic deficiencies and racial bias, this administration has opened no investigations and entered into no consent decrees. Not in Minneapolis, not in Louisville, not in Fort Worth, not in Rochester, not in Kenosha, nor any other city. To the contrary, the administration has worked to suppress and punish the legitimate First Amendment protected protests by those seeking race equity in policing.”

The Section has also been absent during the COVID-19 crisis as those confined to prisons and jails were some of the first and hardest hit.

“This moment in history creates the opportunity to confront racial injustice and achieve change that will create greater equity. The Civil Rights Division is largely sitting on the sidelines.”

Read the full testimony from Jonathan Smith and watch the oversight hearing here.

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