DOJ Accused of Avoiding Dialogue on Police and Justice Reform

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Department of Justice

Photo by John Taylor via Flickr

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and ten civil rights organizations sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr expressing grave concerns about what they called an exclusive convening on policing consent decrees and settlement agreements.

“Barr promised during his Senate confirmation hearing to meet with civil rights organizations regarding policing and justice reform. But the Department never responded to the request,” the conference said.

The Washington Post reported that on Tuesday, a gathering was set at the Justice Department.

The Post said six organizations that had been invited declined to send representatives because DOJ had excluded many groups with a stake in the issue.

In the end, the meeting turned into a conversation between Barr and just one civil rights leader: Frederick Misilo, president of the Arc, which advocates for people with intellectual disabilities.

In the Leadership Conference’s letter, the group describes its fears about the Justice Department’s blatant disregard for “vital” civil rights tools.

“[Consent decrees] are vital to bringing state and local government officials in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws the Department is authorized to enforce,” the letter stated. “Accordingly, our critique of the Department’s guidelines as it relates to law enforcement civil agreements may also apply to agreements with other state and local entities,” it continued.

In addition to The Leadership Conference, signatories to the letter include The American Civil Liberties Union, The Drug Policy Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The National Fair Housing Alliance, National Urban League, and UnidosUS.

To read the letter, click here.

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