US civil rights groups refuse to appear before Justice Department police commission
WASHINGTON (US) – Prominent civil rights groups in the US have refused to appear before a Justice Department law enforcement commission, which was formed to recommend ways to reduce crime and enhance respect for police. But rights groups say it is out of touch with public ire over policing.
The Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice was established in January.
Rights groups say the commission’s mission statement neither mentions racial prejudice in criminal justice nor addresses excessive use of force by police. Compared to a similar commission formed under the Obama administration, its members represent only federal, state and local law enforcement authorities. There are no civil rights advocates, defense attorneys or even big-city police departments.
According to civil rights leaders, they only received invitations to testify after the NAACP Legal Defense Fund sued the commission in April for violating federal open-meeting laws. That case is pending, and the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to have it dismissed.
“It is so completely out of touch with what is happening,” said Kanya Bennett, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
In the wake of protests after the death of George Floyd, the commission conducted some hearings regarding the excessive use of force and community policing. But they were announced without much warning in advance and it was a closed affair with no public participation.
According to a Justice Department spokeswoman, the commission is slated to address issues mentioned in a police reform executive order inked by President Donald Trump.
It is expected to come out with a report in October that recommends ways to decrease crime and addresses issues of mental health and homelessness.
The commission is expected to release a report in October offering recommendations for decreasing crime, addressing mental health and homelessness issues.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field