Holder vows to restore DOJ civil rights
Barack Obama went to Selma, Ala., two years ago to claim a place in the lineage of civil rights pioneers.
His African-American attorney general returned to mark “Bloody Sunday” again — this time, with a pledge to restore the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and end “the scourge of racial profiling.”
Much like Obama in 2007, Eric Holder’s appearance at Brown Chapel AME Church Sunday was part remembrance, part present-day politics
Holder was there to commemorate the day in 1965 when Alabama state troopers beat a group of civil rights marchers, but he also spoke to those in the church of racial struggles today, with a pledge that Obama would help protect the gains won by their predecessors.
The attorney general did not reprise his view that America is “a nation of cowards” for not being more willing to discuss race. But Holder confronted in plain terms two issues critical to the black community — issues that many blacks widely believe the Bush administration ignored.
“Under my leadership, the Civil Rights Division will fight discrimination and inequality just as fiercely as the Criminal Division fights crime,” Holder promised in the sanctuary that often served as a local headquarters for civil rights activists in the ’60s. “Under my leadership, in all that it does, the Civil Rights Division will reflect the spirit of the movement that inspired its creation.”
Speaking about law enforcement — seen by some blacks as more foe than friend — Holder said he would strive for the police to “salute the residents of every neighborhood and for every resident to salute them in return.”
“That will require the Justice Department to work hand in hand with police and communities to get neighborhoods engaged in promoting their own protection,” he said. “That won’t happen unless we relentlessly pursue an end to the scourge of racial profiling of African-Americans, Muslims and other Americans that alienates citizens from their own communities.”
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