Eric Holder and racial cases: Abusing the power of the federal government in the Trayvon Martin and Ferguson, MO cases?
REPORTER: “There is a big announcement that you made years ago about the investigation in Trayvon Martin shooting. Have you ever finished that civil rights investigation? Are you ever going to finish that?”
HOLDER: “That investigation is ongoing. In fact, in anticipation of that question, I was asked — I asked, give me, you know, the best we can where do we stand. That matter is ongoing. There are active steps we are still in the process of taking. There are witnesses who we want to speak to as a result of some recent development. So that matter is still underway.”From Politico:
Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Thursday that even as his department has been opening new investigations stemming from the racially-charged shooting death of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last month, federal prosecutors have still not concluded a long-pending probe into the shooting death of another black teen, Trayvon Martin, in Florida in 2012.
Last November, Holder told the Washington Post he expected a conclusion "relatively soon" to the probe into the shooting of Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. In July 2013, a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman was acquitted of murder. Holder promptly announced that the Justice Department would probe the case to see if prosecution on federal charges was warranted. . . .
Experts and former prosecutors have said they are very doubtful the Justice Department will file a federal criminal case against Zimmerman, although his acquittal on state charges does not legally preclude doing so. . . .So despite "experts and former prosecutors" saying it is doubtful that federal criminal charges will be brought against Zimmerman, the Obama administration continues harassing Zimmerman.
Here is another clip from the same press conference about how the federal government can use its massive resources to make life difficult for a small town, when it appears that Holder made up his mind before any evidence was actually collected. Others have noted how Holder “is personally invested in" the Ferguson case, having put in “more than 40 FBI agents on the ground." Holder has publicly spoken out about what he perceived of as police hassling him when he was younger, though the evidence that those incidents actually involved race was never provided. What is extraordinary here is that the local prosecutor is a Democrat and Holder clearly doesn't trust him to do a reasonable job. From Grabien.com:
REPORTER: “Mr. Attorney General, can you give us a little more texture on why you decided to launch this investigation? Your own conversations there — you talk about review of documented allegations. Give us the universe of what went into this.”
MORAN: “We looked at a number of things in our initial and preliminary assessment and whether or not to open the investigation. It included not only discussions that the Attorney General had with residents of Ferguson two weeks ago but also, other meetings that the Civil rights division and Community relations service and other Justice Department officials have had with residents. We’ve looked of course at public records and other pieces of information that are available to make an assessment that this was indeed an appropriate opening for a pattern and practice investigation. Moreover, the civil rights division met with city leaders in Ferguson yesterday and they expressed a strong willingness to assist us, and in fact were extremely open to this investigation. So we will have cooperation from our local residents.”
REPORTER: “What public records are we talking about?”
MORAN: “There are a number of pieces of information that we looked at which would have included demographics and public records related to cases that may have been filed by private litigants. There are a number of different things we looked at.”
REPORTER: “Mr. Attorney General, what about your visit struck you to the point where you felt comfortable able to move forward with the investigation? And then secondly, what do you say to supporters of the police that this investigation is premature and in fact unfair to the police department?”
HOLDER: “Well, I would say that, as Molly said, the assistant attorney general said, the decision to go ahead was based not only on what I heard while I was out there, which was fairly compelling, and there was a certain continuity in similarities and the kinds of things that I was hearing whether it’s the traffic stops, revenue raising on the basis of traffic stopped; traffic stops that occurred in certain parts of the area. But in addition to that and in response to the earlier question, there has been a review of documentary evidence indicating that there are problems. I do not think there is any question that there is a basis to begin a pattern or practice of investigation. So with regard to those who might be concerned that we are somehow being premature, all we are saying at this point is we are opening an investigation to see whether or not there are in fact problems. I think the fact that we have pledges of local cooperation is an indication that there are issues felt even there at the local level, indicating the need for us to work together to make the situation better. But I want to emphasize, as I said in the prepared remarks, the vast majority of the people who serve — the American people in a law enforcement capacity in this country do so honorably, do so quite well. The vast majority of police departments do so, I think, quite well. But where we find problems, it is incumbent upon us given our statutory responsibilities to use federal law to make sure that in fact occurs.”
REPORTER: “[indecipherable] You know, this is the same when we read a lot of stuff and you said there is no question that there is justification for opening it. But, I mean, it just sounds like, we talk to people, we read some stuff. But what specifically? Are there cases that specifically predicated the opening of this?”
HOLDER: “[indecipherable] when you say, we read a lot of stuff. I mean, that’s kind of what we do. You know —“ [crosstalk]
REPORTER: “There is no question, but there is no question to you. But for people who do not know what you read and don’t know what you’re looking at, what specifically have you seen that said, yes, we have to open this investigation?”
HOLDER: “Molly maybe can get into more of the specifics, but there are variety of documents and materials that are contained in the public record that exists about the percentages of stops that occurred that involve certain ethnic groups and whether those are consistent with the numbers of people who make up the population. There were whole variety of things that you all have reported on that I think given us a good factual basis to proceed.”