Attorney General Eric Holder

Here Are the Police Practices the Justice Department Wants to Investigate in Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder is launching an investigation into the conduct and practices of the Ferguson, Mo., police department. | EPA

National Journal

The probe will examine the local police department’s use of deadly force and protocols for stops, searches, and arrests.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that the Justice Department will open a civil-rights investigation of the Ferguson Police Department following weeks of protest in response to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

The Justice Department will probe documented allegations of police misconduct, as well as an alleged history of racial discrimination, to determine whether Ferguson officers have violated federal civil-rights laws.

Holder met with officials and members of the community in Ferguson last month, when the St. Louis suburb was in the midst of protests for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.

“People consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents from general policing practices and from the lack of diversity on the Ferguson police force,” Holder said Thursday. “These anecdotal accounts underscore the history of mistrust of law enforcement in Ferguson that has received a good deal of attention.”

Holder said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, and other city officials have pledged their cooperation in the investigation. The probe, he said, will “assess the police department’s use of force, deadly force. It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that have been brought to light.”

Other police departments that were involved in handling the protests last month may not be immune from the Justice Department’s scrutiny, Holder said. “If at any point we find reason to expand our inquiry to include additional police forces in neighboring jurisdictions, we will not hesitate to do so.”

Holder also announced Thursday that the Justice Department will work with the St. Louis County Police Department in a “collaborative reform effort,” a comprehensive review of policies and training practices. The department was pulled off the scene in Ferguson just days after protests began, due to heavy-handed crowd-control tactics that included the use of tear gas and military-style equipment.

A separate Justice Department probe is looking into the events of Aug. 9 to determine whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Brown, violated Brown’s civil rights.

The Justice Department investigations will unfold parallel to an FBI civil-rights probe launched just days after Brown’s death. At the same time, a grand jury in St. Louis County is hearing the details of the case, but the jury will likely not decide whether to bring charges against Wilson until mid-October.

A Black President’s Burden

A Black President’s Burden

PBO – White House

This particular article belongs on the main page of TFC…

The National Memo

It was shortly before 1 a.m. when President Barack Obama arrived at the White House for his vacation break — that is, his break from his vacation. By late afternoon the same day, he had met with his national security team about Iraq and his attorney general about Ferguson, and was delivering a statement to the press in the White House briefing room. He looks tired, Twitter said. He isn’t wearing a tie, Twitter complained. Where is his passion? Twitter wanted to know. And then there was this, from retiring ABC correspondent Ann Compton, on Ferguson: “Have you considered going yourself? Is there more that you personally can do?”

Maybe a white president eventually would have gotten the Compton questions. With a black president, the only surprise was that they hadn’t been asked sooner.

Every time there is a demographic breakthrough, the pathbreaker confronts soaring expectations and symbolic responsibilities. John F. Kennedy had to explain how his Catholic faith would or wouldn’t influence him in the White House, and more recently he would have been on the spot to weigh in on sexual abuse scandals involving priests. A President Mitt Romney, steeped in a less familiar faith, would have been a de facto interpreter of what it means to be Mormon and pressed to comment on any developments involving his church.

Had President Hillary Clinton been in the Oval Office for the last few years, she would have been cross-pressured by senators with competing ideas of how to handle sexual assaults in the military. She might have been expected to show a special interest in the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, in the plight of Saudi women who are legally the property of men, in female genital mutilation in Africa and Asia, and in the gender-based abuse and murder committed by the Islamic State.

If Clinton does become president, feminist expectations of her would be immeasurable, and destined to be dashed. There’s no way she could live up to her stirring pronouncement nearly 20 years ago, at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” As Secretary of State, Clinton even encountered pushback for supporting Saudi women protesting their country’s ban on women drivers.

While Obama’s victory bulldozed a brick wall, it could not banish the past to the past. It thus falls to Obama to interpret the still painful black experience for the rest of America, a trial-and-error process that usually results in one faction or another being annoyed, alienated or disappointed. In this instance, Obama hasn’t branded the Ferguson police stupid, which is what he called the Cambridge police when they arrested Henry Louis Gates Jr., a black Harvard professor trying to get into his own locked home. He hasn’t said that if he had a son, he’d look like the dead Ferguson teen, Michael Brown, though he made headlines with that formulation a month after Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

It’s been less than two weeks since the Brown shooting and police have said the 18-year-old is a suspect in a robbery that happened shortly before he was shot, two possible reasons for Obama’s caution. Ever the master calibrator, the president has talked of the tough job the police have to do, the tragedy of someone dying so young, the communities that “often find themselves isolated, often find themselves without hope, without economic prospects.” He sent a stand-in to Ferguson — Eric Holder, the first black attorney general.

If Obama wants to show personal passion, there is a way. He should take up the causes of voter registration and turnout in Ferguson, as Al Sharpton has done. Republicans call this exploiting a tragedy, but in reality it is promoting politics as a substitute for looting, shooting and street protests, in a place that needs to hear that message. Consider: Overall turnout in this year’s municipal election in Ferguson was about 12 percent — “an insult to your children,” Sharpton told mourners last weekend. Last year, according to research done for The Washington Post, black voter turnout was a tiny 6 percent — roughly one-third the level of white turnout.

As you’d expect, given those patterns, Ferguson has a white mayor, five white council members out of six, and a police force that is 94 percent white. The real shock is that this small St. Louis suburb is 67 percent black. There is no reason for blacks in Ferguson to feel isolated or hopeless. There is every reason for them to vote, and for Obama to remind them through exhortation and his very existence of the change that can be wrought at the ballot box.

Blake Farenthold Introduces Bill To Withhold Eric Holder’s Paycheck

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 04:  Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas., speaks at a news conference with other House republican freshmen to call on the Senate to take up action on the budget passed in the House in April and also house passed bills that they say will spur job growth and reduce the deficit.

The Huffington Post

In a targeted swipe against Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) announced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit federal employees found in contempt of Congress from receiving government paychecks.

Holder was held in contempt by House Republicans in 2012 for his non-compliance in releasing documents related to the Fast and Furious program, a botched federal gun-walking operation. Holder is the first sitting cabinet member in U.S. history to be found in contempt.

“My bill will at least prevent current and future federal employees, like Attorney General Holder, from continuing to collect their taxpayer-paid salaries while held in contempt of Congress,” Farenthold said in a statement announcing the “Contempt Act.”

Farenthold refused to question Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on April 8, arguing that any other member of the public who refused to comply with a Justice Department subpoena “would be in jail.”

“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior,” Farenthold said of his legislation.

The bill, officially introduced on Thursday, would suspend officials’ pay until the “date on which a resolution revoking such contempt is adopted by the House or Senate (as the case may be).”

In November, a group of 11 hard-line House Republicans, including Farenthold, attempted to impeach Holder for not complying with their congressional subpoena for Fast and Furious documents, among other allegations.

NOTE:   This guy was on Hardball last fall…watch his exchange with Chris Matthews

The Last Word – Attorney General Eric Holder questions ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments were poignant and yet, to African Americans very familiar.  The following video is a segment from The Last Word: