Showing posts with label DOJ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOJ. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

5 ex-Memphis police officers indicted by federal grand jury in beating death of Tyre Nichols

Five former Memphis Police officers charged in death of Tyre Nichols are now also facing federal civil rights charges.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

4 police officers charged with civil rights offenses in connection to Breonna Taylor's death

Four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor's home were arrested and charged with federal civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Rep. Bobby Rush Introduces Legislation To Require Full, Public Release of COINTELPRO Files

Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced legislation that would compel government agencies to release, and require public disclosure, of all records related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s nefarious COINTELPRO operation, a series of covert and illegal projects aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations including the Black Panther Party, and individuals including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and was a close friend to Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton, who was assassinated in his sleep in 1969 in a raid carried out as part of COINTELPRO operation.  In addition to requiring the public release of COINTELPRO records within six months, Rush’s bill would also remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Hoover, who led the FBI from 1924-1972, was the lead public official who devised and carried out the COINTELPRO operation.

“It is high time that the American people know about the odious and inhumane legacy of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operation and its assault on our nation’s civil liberties.  This exceptionally important legislation goes to the crux of power, law, and the pervasive counterintelligence program conducted against American citizens.

“COINTELPRO was spying on American citizens.  Anyone who took a political position against the status quo, anyone who wanted to make America better was subject to being penalized, investigated — and in the case of my friend Fred Hampton, assassinated — by the official legal arm of the federal government.

“As a victim of COINTELPRO, I want to know, with honesty, with clarity, and with no redactions, the full extent of the FBI’s nefarious operations.  I want to know the breadth and depth of the conspiracy to assassinate Fred Hampton and how taxpayer dollars were spent on his assassination.  I want to know why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a focus of the FBI, why Billie Holiday was a focus of the FBI — I want to know why so many young activists were harassed by the FBI.  What was the justification for the impact that it had on their lives? 

“Finally, it is beyond time for J. Edgar Hoover, who has a clear legacy as the number one assailant on America’s constitutional guarantees for its citizens, to have his name is removed from the FBI headquarters.

“I want to shine a bright light on this dark chapter of our nation’s history.  And I think it is very timely and very important that we do it at this moment,” said Rush.

The extensive spying and chicanery of the COINTELPRO operation only came to light — to the limited extent that we understand its operations today — because of a 1971 burglary of an FBI field office and a more recent wrongful death civil suit.  However, much about COINTELPRO remains unknown due to the public’s inability to view files related to the operation, which are currently in the possession of government agencies including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI. 

Rush’s bill would require government agencies including the FBI and the DOJ to release records related to COINTELPRO so that the public can determine and understand the full extent of the FBI’s monitoring of American citizens and its assault on Americans’ legal and constitutional protections. 

The bill specifies that six months after enactment of the law, any file related to COINTELPRO operation must be released and made fully public.  If an agency or branch believes that the release of a particular file is clearly and demonstrably expected to cause harm, that agency or branch must release portions of the file, a substitute of the file that conveys the necessary information, or a summary of the file.  This bill would also establish the COINTELPRO Records Review Board, which would be empowered to review determinations by government offices that do not fully disclose their records after six months, as required by the bill.  The Review Board would be comprised of outside experts in history and legal issues who would make a recommendation to the President regarding whether files that have been only partially disclosed should be fully released. 

Twenty-five years after the enactment of the bill into law, if an agency or branch still wishes to block the full release of a file, they must provide written justification explaining why the file falls within a very limited set of exemptions specified in Congressman Rush’s legislation, for example, that it would cause identifiable damage to America’s national security or intelligence operations.  This explanation would go to the Archivist of the United States as well as a senior official in the relevant branch or chamber, who could then decide to overrule the agency’s decision and release the full file. 

The text of Rush’s legislation is available HERE.

In March, Rush led his colleagues in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the release of unclassified and unredacted versions of DOJ and FBI files related to the assassination of Fred Hampton.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Eric Holder: Trump DOJ comments both wrong and dangerous

Former Attorney General Eric Holder is not happy with President Trump for saying that he has the "absolute right" to do what he wants with the Department of Justice. Holder tweeted that Trump's comments were "wrong" and "dangerous." Read his full tweet below:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Congressional Black Caucus rips DOJ decision on police program

Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) ripped the Trump administration's move on Friday to roll back an Obama-era program that oversees and rates how police officers work with members of the communities they serve. The move was made just hours after a St. Louis cop was found not guilty in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith

“This is yet another example of what the black community has to lose under this administration," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said in a statement.

“This decision is wrong, reckless, insensitive, and immature. It also further divides police departments and communities – rich and poor, black and white," Richmond said.

“In the midst of protests in St. Louis, Mo., in response to the acquittal of a cop who killed a 24-year-old African-American man, the Trump Justice Department is gutting an important federal program that is focused on restoring trust between communities and police departments and monitoring progress in this area," Richmond added.

The Department of Justice announced changes Friday targeting the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance.

The initiative was created under former President Barack Obama and allowed police departments and cities to seek federal help on various issues, including police shootings and alleged brutality.


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Statement from Congressional Black Caucus Chairman on DOJ Plans to Attack Affirmative Action

Today, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressman Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), issued the following statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to attack affirmative action efforts on college and university campuses:

“Attorney General Sessions continues to show us again and again who he is and what he is about.

“In January of this year, the CBC expressed grave concerns about the nomination of then Senator Sessions to the post of attorney general because of his decades-long record of hostility to civil rights and equality issues. The New York Times report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is planning to use tax payer funds to expand its current assault on communities of color is more proof that our concerns were well-founded. In fact, with each passing day of the Trump Administration, the CBC’s worst fears about Attorney General Sessions are quickly becoming reality.

“Instead of standing up for himself to a president who called him ‘very weak’ and ‘beleaguered,’ Attorney General Sessions has chosen to pick on minority students who are in pursuit of a college education, opportunity, and the American Dream. In doing so, he’s appealing to the lowest common denominator in our country, people who wrongly believe that minority students who benefit from efforts to promote diversity and equality are ignorant, undeserving, and unqualified.

“Also, in doing so, he is re-litigating last year’s Supreme Court ruling upholding decades of precedent in favor of affirmative action in higher education. His re-litigation of settled law promotes the false narrative that efforts to ensure more people of color have access to higher education is a war on white people. It also chills diversity and equality efforts in higher education by intimidating the academic community.

“In Fisher v. University of Texas, the Supreme Court held that colleges and universities had a ‘lawful’ and ‘compelling interest’ in including racial diversity as a part of their mission because of the ‘educational benefits that flow from student body diversity.’ The court also held that race could be considered along with merit-based criteria in admissions decisions. Now, Attorney General Sessions wants to turn back the clock to the darker days in our history when minority students couldn’t get into the schools of their choice because of racist admissions practices.

“In addition to this attack on Affirmative Action, Attorney General Sessions has taken steps to increase voter suppression, promote private prisons, revive the failed war on drugs, and incentivize mass incarceration, which hurts families and communities. The CBC is strongly opposed to these efforts and will continue to push back on DOJ’s obvious attempts to limit the rights of communities of color.”

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Comey Asks DOJ to Reject Trump’s Wiretap Accusations against Obama

F.B.I. Director James Comey is no friend or hero to liberals/Democrats, but even he is calling nonsense on Trump's claims that President Obama had Trump Towers phone lines tapped. He's not doing it so much to help Obama but to cover the F.B.I.'s rear ends. Read more on this from Mediaite below:

F.B.I. Director James B. Comey has called on the Department of Justice to reject President Donald Trump‘s claims that Barack Obama, while in office, called for an illegal wiretap of Trump Towers during the 2016 Presidential election.

Comey has stated that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected. In addition, Trump’s accusation implies that the F.B.I. would have broken the law should the allegations be true. Comey has also been working with the DOJ to knock down Trump’s claim as there is virtually no evidence.

A statement by the F.B.I. invalidating the president’s claims would be a huge blow to the office of the presidency, essentially putting the nation’s top law enforcement officials in a position where they could question the truthfulness of the nation’s highest government official.

Read more: Comey Asks DOJ to Reject Trump’s Wiretap Accusations

Monday, December 26, 2016

President Obama Signs 'Emmett Till Bill'

With only weeks left in office President Barack Obama signed the “Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016,” expanding the responsibilities of the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate and prosecute criminal civil rights violations that occurred before 1980 and resulted in a death. Read a summary of the bill from the Congressional Research Service below.
Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016
(Sec. 2) This bill reauthorizes the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 (Emmett Till Act) and expands the responsibilities of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to include the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights statutes violations that occurred before 1980 and resulted in a death. (Currently, Emmett Till Act investigations are limited to violations that occurred before 1970.)
The bill expresses the sense of Congress that all authorities with jurisdiction should: (1) meet regularly with civil rights organizations, institutions of higher education, and DOJ-designated entities to coordinate information sharing and discuss the status of DOJ's Emmett Till Act work; (2) support the full accounting of all victims whose deaths or disappearances were the result of racially motivated crimes; (3) hold accountable under federal and state law individuals who were perpetrators of, or accomplices in, unsolved civil rights murders and disappearances; (4) keep families regularly informed about the status of the investigations; and (5) expeditiously comply with Freedom of Information Act requests and develop a singular, publicly accessible repository of these disclosed documents.
In investigating a complaint, DOJ may coordinate activities with entities that DOJ determines to be appropriate.
DOJ may reopen and review cases closed without an in-person investigation conducted by DOJ or the FBI.
DOJ must hold meetings with the Civil Rights Division, the FBI, the Community Relations Service, civil rights organizations, institutions of higher education, DOJ-designated entities, and state and local law enforcement to discuss the status of its Emmett Till Act work.
In an annual report to Congress, DOJ must indicate:
  • the number of cases referred by a civil rights organization, an institution of higher education, or a state or local law enforcement agency;
  • the number of such cases that resulted in federal charges;
  • the date any such charges were filed;
  • whether DOJ has declined to prosecute or participate in an investigation of a referred case;
  • the outreach, collaboration, and support for investigations and prosecutions of violations of criminal civil rights statutes, including murders and disappearances; and
  • any activity on reopened cases.
The Community Relations Service must provide technical assistance by bringing together law enforcement agencies and communities to address tensions raised by civil rights era crimes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Feds: Police violated free-speech rights during Ferguson unrest

Police antagonized crowds gathered to protest in Ferguson, violated free-speech rights and made it difficult to hold officers accountable, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report summary obtained by CBS News.

The summary cited "vague and arbitrary" orders to keep protesters moving that violated their rights of assembly and free speech. It is part of a longer "after-action" report to be delivered this week to top police officials in Ferguson, St. Louis city and county and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The summary suggests that unrest that followed the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown was aggravated by the community's hostility toward Ferguson police and worsened when authorities didn't quickly divulge details of his death, the newspaper reported Tuesday.

"Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened," according to the document.

Read more: Federal Report Faults Police Actions During Ferguson Unrest

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

DOJ: Ferguson PD engaged in racially biased policing

A Justice Department review has found that Missouri's troubled Ferguson Police Department engaged in a broad pattern of racially biased enforcement that permeated the city's justice system, including the use of unreasonable force against African American suspects, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the findings.

In 88% of cases in which Ferguson police documented the use of force, for example, that force was used against African Americans, according to the official who is not authorized to comment publicly. In addition, in all 14 canine bite incidents in which the suspect's race is known, the person bitten was African American.

African Americans account for 67% of the population in Ferguson, but they accounted for 85% of the drivers stopped by police, 90% of the people issued tickets and 93% of the people arrested, a three-year examination of suspect stops found. When those cases reached the Municipal Court, authorities collected more fines for suspects' failure to appear than any other charge, mostly from the city's poorest and most vulnerable residents.

African Americans were more than twice as likely than white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops, but 26% less likely to have contraband, the review found.

The Ferguson Police Department often charged its black residents with petty crimes. African Americans accounted for 95% of the people charged with walking in the street and 92% of people charged with disturbing the peace.

Investigators also recovered racially charged e-mails sent among employees of the police department and the Ferguson Municipal Court, which authorities said contributed to the alleged bias.

Among the e-mails was a missive apparently sent soon after President Obama's 2008 election. It suggested that he would not remain long in the job because "what black man holds a steady job for four years.''

Another May 2011 e-mail referred to an African-American woman receiving a "Crime-stoppers'' reward for terminating a pregnancy.

Read more: DOJ: Ferguson PD engaged in racially biased policing

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tearful Obama bids Holder farewell

A tearful President Obama on Friday bid goodbye to outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, one of his closest friends in the administration.

"I'll just come out and say it — he has been one of our finest," Obama said at the Justice Department, where Holder’s official portrait was unveiled.

"Having good men in positions of power and authority, who are willing to fight for what's right, that's a rare thing, that's a powerful thing," Obama said of Holder, wiping away a tear. Holder is serving out his final days in Obama’s Cabinet, with the Senate expected to soon confirm Loretta Lynch to take his place as attorney general.

Read more: Tearful Obama bids Holder farewell

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

George Zimmerman Will Not Face Federal Charges in Death of Trayvon Martin

While the public waits for a Justice Department announcement over two separate investigations spurred by the summer shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, the department announced today it is closing its investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Justice Department officials met with Martin's family today, and were told that they will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin's civil rights.

Read more: Trayvon Martin: DOJ Announces No Charges Against George Zimmerman

Sunday, August 17, 2014

US Justice Department will conduct second autopsy on body of Michael Brown.

Huffpost reporter Ryan J. Reilly that the US Justice Department will be conducting a second autopsy on the body of Michael Brown.