Thousands Protest DOJ Sluggish Response to Hate Crimes and Police Misconduct

17 11 2007

Yesterday thousands marched from Freedom Plaza to the Justice Department in Washington DC to protest the limp response prosecuting hate crimes and police misconduct. Activists have pointed to the disparity in treatment of Jena Six teens, the noose found from college campuses to the cost guard academy, the rape and torture of Megan Williams, the deadly shooting of Sean Bell in Queens, New York and Khiel Coppin in Brooklyn has served as the impetus for more than 20,000 people to agitate federal authorities to vigorously enforce civil rights laws.

Though much of the media attention and ire has focused on Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King Jr. III, the Hip Hop Caucus has been the main organizing force behind the march, which has been promoted by black radio personalities such as Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey have promoted it.

Newly sworn in Attorney General Michael Mukasey has released a statement in reaction to march implying that the energies of the march has been misplaced. “We hope that all can agree that it is the criminals who commit violent acts of hate who deserve the loudest protest.” He also suggested that much of work on hate crime case has to be done secret, “In order to be most effective, these investigations do not occur in the public eye.” Such a statement should strike most people as a dodge considering that it is the lack of enforcement of federal laws that people were protesting against.

More importantly the numbers tell the story. According to an ABC News article,

In 1997, there were 799 investigations of racially motivated crimes and incidents against houses of worship reported to the division’s Criminal Section. In 2007, that number was 256 — a decrease of 68 percent for the decade.

As for criminal cases, the Justice Department charged 76 individuals in 1997, and the number has declined in the decade since. Charges have been filed in only 15 cases so far this year.

There must be a lot of secret investigations to make up for this such as huge drop off.

Check out Thursday’s CNN news clip on the march.

Here is Micheal Mukasey’s statement on the march.

Statement of Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey Regarding Thursday’s Civil Rights March

In recent months, there have been reports of nooses and other symbols of racial and religious hate appearing in schools, work places, and neighborhoods across the country. These symbols of hate have no place in our great country. As part of the Justice Department’s racial threats initiative, the Department – including the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – is working in partnership with state and local law enforcement and civil rights organizations to investigate aggressively dozens of noose-hangings and other recent racially and religiously motivated threats around the country. In order to be most effective, these investigations do not occur in the public eye.

The Justice Department shares with those who demonstrate today their objective of bringing to justice those who commit criminal acts of hate; it shares their vision of eradicating hate in our society. At the same time, the Department must follow the law and the principles of federal prosecution in every case it investigates and prosecutes. Although there are limitations and challenges in bringing successful hate crimes prosecutions, the Department takes each case seriously, and is prepared to vindicate the rights of the victims when prosecution is warranted by the facts and by federal law.

The mission of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is as vital today as when it was created 50 years ago. Those who march today should be commended for highlighting the issues of tolerance and civil liberties. We hope that all can agree that it is the criminals who commit violent acts of hate who deserve the loudest protest. And as long as hatred and racism exist, the Justice Department will continue its hard and effective work on behalf of all victims of hate crimes.

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Check out Rosa Clemente, the Executive Director of the Hip Hop Caucus, explain the aims of the march on Democracy NOW! from the activist perspective.

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18 11 2007
Hate crime march held Friday « The Social Watch

[…] Friday’s march spawn from the recent incidents of noose hangings found across the country, Jena 6 and the survival of Megan Williams. […]

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