Why Eric Holder Won’t Let Go of FergusonPosted: February 24, 2015
The attorney general seems intent on taking one more jab at the police before leaving the Justice Department
Jason L. Riley writes: When all was said and done, the events that unfolded in Ferguson, Mo., last summer were not extraordinary but rather all too familiar. Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown, a black robbery suspect, resisted arrest, attacked a police officer and was shot dead. We’ve seen this movie many times before. But what might have prompted a helpful discussion about high crime rates in black communities has instead prompted a dishonest debate over police behavior.
“…the Justice Department seems to have come to the same conclusion as the Ferguson grand jury and found no grounds for a criminal prosecution of Mr. Wilson. Mr. Holder might now be trying to justify his bigfooting by suing the city, but there is probably no basis for that, either. Hence, the leak to the media that a civil lawsuit may be in the works.”
Professional agitators in the civil-rights community push false narratives to stay relevant, but we should expect more from the Justice Department. Instead, we have Attorney General Eric Holder channeling Al Sharpton . Last week Mr. Holder said that he will soon announce the results of his Ferguson investigation. CNN, citing “sources,” reported that Darren Wilson, the police officer involved in the shooting, is unlikely to be charged but that Justice is preparing to sue the Ferguson police department “over a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics used by police officers, if the police department does not agree to make changes on its own.”
“This is about expanding federal power in the police departments. The lawyers at Justice believe they are the ones who should be promulgating national standards of how cops should behave. And police departments are so afraid of bad publicity that they agree to settle the case with all kinds of rules that Justice wants to impose.”
— Hans von Spakovsky, former Justice Department attorney
After months of looking into the incident, the Justice Department seems to have come to the same conclusion as the Ferguson grand jury and found no grounds for a criminal prosecution of Mr. Wilson. Mr. Holder might now be trying to justify his bigfooting by suing the city, but there is probably no basis for that, either. Hence, the leak to the media that a civil lawsuit may be in the works. The leak was an egregious breach of protocol and, in effect, a threat. We’ve seen this movie before, too.
[Check out Jason Riley’s book “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” at Amazon]
In 1994, Congress passed a bill that made unlawful “the pattern or practice” of conduct by police “that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” Since the law’s inception, the Justice Department has taken action against more than 50 state and local police departments, and nearly all have opted to settle rather than litigate. Investigations often come at the urging of groups like the NAACP and ACLU. Settlements typically involve a police department adopting “best practices” that can encompass the entire realm of policing—hiring, training, supervision—and are drawn up by Justice Department lawyers with little or no experience in law enforcement…. (read more)
Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).
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