DOJ Civil Rights Chief Links Local Distrust of Police to ‘Unconstitutional’ Tactics
Law: The chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division told more than 200 lawyers and community activists at an Atlanta symposium Tuesday at Georgia State University that she and her Justice Department colleagues in Washington and across the nation “see a very clear link” between the criminalization of poverty by law enforcement authorities and the growing distrust of police and the government by the public.
Civil rights chief Vanita Gupta’s comments on law enforcement tactics came just hours before unrest erupted in Charlotte over the latest police shooting of an African-American man, Keith Lamont Scott. A second African-American man, Terence Crutcher, was also shot by police, in Tulsa, on Friday.
“Unconstitutional policing undermines community trust,” Gupta said. “Blanket assumptions and stereotypes about certain neighborhoods and certain communities can lead residents to see the justice system as illegitimate and authorities as corrupt. Those perceptions can drive resentment. And resentment can prevent the type of effective policing needed to keep communities and officers safe.”
Gupta noted that in Baltimore, the city’s African-American residents, concentrated in two small districts that accounted for just 11 percent of the city’s population, represented an estimated 44 percent of police stops. There, as well as in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed 16-year-old African-American teen in 2014, Gupta said Justice Department staff saw a trend toward criminalizing the poor coupled with a focus on policing in order to generate revenue. That strategy, Gupta said, “resulted in a system where the police department and municipal court advanced policies that broke the law.”
Gupta said at the symposium that more than 60 percent of all inmates in county jails across the nation are defendants awaiting trial. Many of them, she said, “have committed nonviolent offenses and are there because they cannot pay bail.” Those practices “translate into devastating consequences—for individuals, communities and society as a whole,” she said. For people living on the financial edge, an arrest or a fine can cost a defendant his or her job, family, children, home and health care, trapping “the most vulnerable among us in perpetual cycles of poverty, debt and incarceration,” Gupta said. That, in turn, “undermines the legitimacy of our justice system,” she added. “It threatens the integrity of our democracy.”
She said the division also found when people living in poverty could not pay the court’s fines and fees, “they were subjected to multiple arrests, jail time and payments that far exceeded the cost of the original ticket.”
The seminar was sponsored by the Southern Center for Human Rights, which has filed lawsuits across Georgia challenging practices by counties and municipalities, and the private probation companies many of them have retained, that incarcerate misdemeanor defendants because they have no money to pay their fines or post a bond.
The Civil Rights Division has brought its considerable weight to two of those Georgia cases. Last month, Gupta joined with the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and the American Bar Association to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to affirm a trial court ruling on behalf of indigent misdemeanor defendants who had faced jail because they could not afford to post a bond.
Seems Gupta is traveling the country hosted several seminar essentially broadcasting variations of a DoJ mission as noted here: DOJ Official: Slavery to Blame for Riots in Ferguson and Baltimore
Need more on Gupta and Loretta Lynch at the DoJ?
CJR: Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, have worked with an organization dedicated to interfering with law enforcement efforts to monitor activities at the most radical mosques.
Lynch and DOJ Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta have appeared at gala events for an organization called Muslim Advocates. The George Soros-funded charity has badgered the New York City Police Department away from monitoring the most radical mosques in the city.
Civil Rights Division head Gupta appeared at the sold-out annual gala event for Muslim Advocates in Millbrae, California. Muslim Advocates lobbies the administration heavily to oppose any link between terrorist acts and radical Islam, and opposes monitoring of radical mosques. Gupta told the crowd:
To anyone who feels afraid, targeted, or discriminated against because of which religion you practice or where you worship, I want to say this — we see you. We hear you. And we stand with you. If you ever feel that somehow you don’t belong, or don’t fit in, here in America, let me reassure you you belong.
Muslim Advocates also conducts recruitment and training for lawyers designed to help FBI terrorist targets and interviewees navigate the interviews. Their annual report states:
Throughout the year we grew our internal volunteer referral list for FBI interviews. Today, the list is over 130 lawyers nationwide who are ready and able to assist community members contacted by the FBI.
The purported non-partisan tax exempt 501(c)(3) charity is conducting a campaign against corporations like Coca-Cola to hector them into not sponsoring the Republican convention in Cleveland.
Muslim Advocates gave Vanita Gupta their Thurgood Marshall Award “for her commitment to criminal justice reform and to holding perpetrators of anti-Muslim hate accountable” at the California gala. Read more here.