Justice Dept. to Address Backlog of Civil Rights Complaints
By Krissah Thompson
There is the ongoing review of the death of a man beaten by four white teenagers in a park in Shenandoah, Pa. The kids, all high school football players, shouted, "Go back to Mexico," before one punched him repeatedly with a metal shank balled up in his fist, according to witnesses. Then, another kicked him on the left side of his head so hard that the Mexican man's brain began to swell. He died two days later, his fiancee weeping at his side.
Not mentioned: This particular tragic fiasco broke out when the football players stumbled upon Luis Ramirez statuatorily raping his fiancee's 15-year-old sister in a public park. Ramirez may have started the fight and certainly appeared eager to fight.
In other words, this sounds much like a photographic negative of the Jena 6 case, where six black star football players beat an unconscious white kid. What were the differences? The white kid didn't happen to die and Jena was turned into a vast national brouhaha about white racism. (See Obama's speech about Jena means we should unleash the Justice Department to fight white racism.)
The end of the article reports that this Shenandoah case has already gone through the courts:
He pointed to the case of Luis Ramirez, the Mexican man who was beaten by the football players 14 months ago in the Shenandoah street fight.
In May, following a week-long trial, a local jury acquitted two of the defendants of all charges except for simple assault, a second-degree misdemeanor. Neither received more than seven months in jail. Another was tried as a juvenile and received probation. The last cooperated with the Justice Department, pleaded guilty in federal court and awaits sentencing. [That appears misleading: The Huffington Post article says: "Walsh pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Ramirez's civil rights and could be out of prison in four years."]
The Justice Department began monitoring the case more than a year ago [i.e., during the Bush Administration] and, according to Holder, is continuing to review the incident. Growing impatient, representatives of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund hand-delivered two boxes of petitions with 50,000 signatures to Justice Department officials in June asking that the teens be charged under the federal hate crimes law.
Holder mentioned the department's review to the Hispanic lawyers group this month, indicating to them that the case is a priority for the civil rights division.
In other words, this is about ethnic demands that racial politics triumph over the Constitution's ban on double jeopardy, combined with the frustrating shortage of real life Great White Defendants. There just aren't enough whites who violently assault non-whites to meet demand, so we we need to try and convict the few we have twice. In fact, we should execute them, then dig them up and then publicly execute then all over again.
Their issues are wrapped up in what is a top concern for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has pledged to make the division his department's "crown jewel" by returning its focus to protecting minorities from discrimination. What becomes of these cases, and others like them, will help determine the meaning of justice in the Obama administration. ...
Holder has said he recognizes the size of the task. In his 2010 budget, he requested an additional $22 million for civil rights work, creating 54 new legal positions and bringing the staff up to 399 lawyers. He told members of the Hispanic Bar Association earlier this month that he holds to a promise he made during his confirmation hearings that "the civil rights division would fight discrimination as fiercely as the criminal division fights crime -- and that we would once again honor the spirit of the movement that inspired its creation. . . . Although much work lies ahead, we are well on our way." ...
Joe Rich was one of them. He worked in the civil rights division from 1968 to 2005, and finally walked away after all of his responsibilities as chief of the voting rights section were steadily steered away.
"We were considered to be wild-eyed liberals, and they were trying to drive us out," said Rich, who is now director of the fair housing project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "You've got a group of people there now that are not experienced in civil rights enforcement and who often had some hostility to civil rights enforcement. It will be a management challenge in how to deal with people like that."
The challenge will likely fall to Tom Perez, a former Maryland politician and civil rights lawyer who is Obama's nominee to head the civil rights division. Seven months after Perez was nominated, his confirmation remains held up in a power play in the Senate that both sides say has little to do with Perez.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) asked Senate Republicans to delay Perez's confirmation after the Department of Justice reduced charges in a case of alleged voter intimidation against the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia that was filed in the waning days of the Bush administration. Smith called the decision "possible political interference." ...
Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the department, said the attorney general's goal is to return the department to a traditional civil rights agenda. Founded in 1957 to enforce anti-discrimination laws, lawyers from the Justice Department's civil rights division were a key part of the civil rights movement. Over the years, the division has since seen its responsibilities grow beyond voting rights to housing, employment and disability discrimination.
There is a fundamental contradiction that grows year by year. By way of analogy, let me briefly recount the British Labour Party's history, which was formed to represent the interests of trade union members against the overwhelming power of the upper and middle classes. Eventually, however, the Labour Party went from outsiders to the dominant power and imposed its platform, such as nationalization of the commanding heights of industry. From 1964-1979, however, an era of mostly Labour governments, an expected paradox emerged that led to the downfall of Labour in 1979 and 18 years in the wilderness until it was fundamentally reconstituted in 1997 by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as an American-style left of center party rather than as Parliamentary expression of the unions.
The paradox that became clear in the 1970s was that the Old Labour party suffered from a fundamental conflict of interest when it came to negotiations between trade unions at nationalized industries and management, which reported to Labour Party cabinet members, who were sworn to promote the welfare of the trade unions. The result was Labour in the role of management constantly caving in to demands from Labour in the role of trade unions, with the resultant inflation and growing economic disparities between Brits inside the unions and outside the unions.
Similarly, the dominant liberal ideology that emerged triumphant in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s was that an elite among the majority (e.g., the President and the Attorney General) would protect the rights and interests of oppressed minorities through things like disparate impact discrimination lawsuits. In other words, the essences of modern American liberalism is the thwarting of majority rule by majority elites in the interest of weak minorities. After all, minorities were, by definition, minorities and therefore weak. And since the majority was large and powerful, it could afford to grant benefactions to a few minority beneficiaries.
But, the triumph of liberalism and the ensuing demographic change means we are slowly heading into era reminiscent of the decadent phase of the Old Labour government in Britain. We now have a black President and black Attorney General vowing to use the power of the Department of Justice to advance black interests.
But, of course, that's just the beginning.