LULAC Urges Sessions’ Justice Department to Defend Police Department Civil Rights Suits
March 3, 2017WASHINGTON, DC - This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that the Justice Department (DOJ) would limit civil rights lawsuits against police departments. Without reading the full reports published by the DOJ under the Obama administration, Sessions minimizes the department's findings by describing them as “pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based.”
The conclusions from both investigations were far from “anecdotal.” In Chicago, DOJ investigators reviewed the department’s "policies, procedures, [and] training plans, [as well as] Department orders and memos, internal and external reports, and more." The report found the city’s police department had “systemic deficiencies” including violations of the U.S. Constitution. The Ferguson report provided extensive statistical analysis. It found that African-Americans were targeted in 85 percent of vehicle stops and made up over 93 percent of arrests, while only comprising of 67 percent of the population.
“The DOJ should serve as a key check and balance to protect all Americans in incidents that violate human and civil rights,” said Roger C. Rocha Jr., National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “We stand firmly in support of protecting our men and women in blue. However, Sessions is only further hindering police-community relationships, which have proven to play a vital role in keeping our streets safe. Fair and lawful police protection should be provided to everyone, regardless of race or class. Departments who fail to do so must be held accountable.”
The Obama-led Justice Department opened 25 investigations into police departments and sheriff's offices. The agency was enforcing 19 agreements at the end of 2016, resolving civil rights lawsuits filed against police departments in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, New Orleans, Cleveland and 15 other cities.
On Monday Sessions stated his department had not made a decision on whether it would move forward with a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies in Chicago’s police department. This is a process that began under the Obama administration.
“Prior to making a decision on the consent decree, we urge Attorney General Sessions to read the DOJ’s full report,” said Rocha. “Failing to read the reports demonstrates his lack of interest in ensuring our police force upholds the Consitution.”
LULAC has also urged Attorney General Sessions to seek an Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights who has a strong track record of aggressively and affirmatively enforcing federal civil rights laws including those involving police misconduct with minority residents.
Sessions's 1986 nomination to a federal judgeship was deterred by accusations of racism, which resurfaced during his race to win confirmation as attorney general.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.