Of course we all knew that, but this is just more evidence…
In a recent op-ed in USA Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated that his Department of Justice will move away from federal oversight of local police departments plagued by abuses and officer-involved killings. In doing so, Sessions will undermine a key policy stemming from the beating of black motorist Rodney King in March 1991 by Los Angeles police officers. The subsequent LA riots, sparked by acquittals of the officers accused in King’s beating, began 25 years ago this Saturday.
After those riots ripped through LA, Congress went on to pass legislation granting federal oversight authority for police departments. Since then, the Justice Department has launched 70 investigations into state and local law enforcement agencies and has negotiated 40 reform agreements, half of which are court-enforced consent decrees. The Obama administration was particularly active with this policy, enforcing 14 consent decrees for troubled police agencies, from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore. Sessions now threatens to undo that work, downplaying any systematic problems with American policing.
Sessions doesn’t see any systemic problems with American policing. Of course he doesn’t. This is the man who, need I remind you, was too racist to be a federal judge in Alabama in the 80s. Coretta Scott King wrote an entire letter in 1986 exposing just how racist this man is…
Mr. Sessions’ conduct as U.S. Attorney, from his politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions to his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicates that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgement to be a federal judge.
And he has proven her right as Attorney General. Back to the Mother Jones article…
This March, a federal judge approved a consent decree reached between the Baltimore Police Department and the Obama administration in the waning days of Obama’s presidency. Sessions slammed the agreement, saying the mandated reforms could stymie officers and cause crime to increase. Moves by Trump’s new attorney general have also thrown into doubt the possibility that the DOJ will pursue a consent decree with the Chicago Police Department, where the DOJ documented systemic problems in a scathing report released in January. Those included subpar use-of-force training and supervision so lax that officers culled information from gang members by dumping them in rival territory if they didn’t cooperate. The lack of a federal consent decree would leave city officials and community activists in Chicago with the daunting challenge of ensuring that the Chicago PD follows through on correcting these problems on its own.
This is a man who believes that policing has been just fine; that Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Kendra James, Freddie Gray, Natasha McKenna, Walter Scott, Akai Gurley, Keith Lamont Scott, Terence Crutcher, Korryn Gaines, and the thousands of other black people murdered by the US police force all deserved it. And he’s is acting on his racism as Attorney General, in the hopes of turning back US police to the way it was before Rodney King.
In a memo to DOJ staff earlier in April ordering a review of all consent decrees with police departments, Sessions attributed abuses to a few “bad actors.” But “that’s an excuse,” says Hoffman. “In many places there are systematic problems. And that’s why this [oversight] authority makes sense.”
The oversight authority must be allowed to stand. Sessions’ racism cannot be allowed to let the police act on their own murderous racism anymore.