Bill Barr's New Civil Rights Focus: Sometimes People Hurt Cops' Feelings :(
Awesome, we have a new fascist propaganda commission!
This week, Attorney General Bill Barr announced the members of the new YAY FASCISM! Pro-Police Commission, officially known as the "Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice."
The commissioners were chosen by Barr and will research things like how to "make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities."
So that's great and wonderful and not at all something out of a dystopian novel.
In October, Trump signed Executive Order 13896, creating a commission to reinforce what he already believes: that no police officer ever does anything wrong and people of color and people who protest police brutality are evil.
At the commission's official launch, Barr announced his support for new, innovative ways to brainwash the public in favor of authoritarian law enforcement practices.
"This Commission is critical," Barr said, because of the challenges posed by technology as well as "a wave of social problems, such as homelessness, drug addiction, and mental illness" that demand solutions beyond the expertise of police.
"Further," Barr added, "there has been, especially as of late, a disturbing pattern of cynicism and disrespect shown toward law enforcement. All Americans should agree that nobody wins when trust breaks down between the police and the community they serve. We need to address the divide."
Of course, if addressing the divide between communities and law enforcement were really the goal, we would see a commission with stakeholders with expertise in different aspects of the criminal justice system and an emphasis on civil rights. Instead, we have a bunch of white men -- and a few white women! -- with backgrounds in law enforcement.
The commission is charged with reviewing "relevant research and expertise and make recommendations regarding important current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system[.]" Some of the topics the commission is charged with investigating include "refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes" and "the need to promote public respect for the law and law enforcement officers."
So that's just great.
The commission has several working groups, which include totally normal things like "Respect For Law Enforcement," where group members will talk about how to convince the public of the necessity of over-incarceration.
Let's take a look at some of the
assholes American patriots on Bill Barr's pro-fascism commission!
In a memo last month, Barr said "a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is important for gaining an effective understanding of these problems and formulating solutions." So naturally, the commission is full of old white guys with police backgrounds. As summarized by Truthout,
Of the 18 people appointed to the commission, 17 are active members of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and judges. One is a city councilman from McKinney, Texas, who has a background in law enforcement and is the first vice president of the local police association.
[ ... ]
Every single member of the commission works in or has ties to law enforcement. The majority are white men.
Phil Keith is the chair of the commission. He's the former police chief of Knoxville, Tennessee, and has a long history of active duty police work. Keith also serves as Trump's director of the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. While Keith was Knoxville's police chief, "repeated acts of violence by police against the city's Black residents precipitated a movement that established a civilian review board and put surveillance cameras in police cruisers."
Another member of the commission, Robert Gualtieri, is the sheriff of Pinellas County, Florida. Gualtieri told Al Sharpton to "Go back to New York" and "mind [his] own business" after a police officer killed Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man, in Clearwater, Florida. He also went on NRA TV to support arming teachers after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And Gualtieri continued to support the use of Tasers and other electroshock weapons, even after one of his deputies killed an unarmed man with a Taser last August.
Other upstanding people on the pro-police commission include Gina Hawkins (chief of the Fayetteville, North Carolina, Police Department, which is accused of planting evidence); Nancy Parr (elected prosecutor of Chesapeake, Virginia, who sends people to prison for getting help after overdosing and runs a likely unconstitutional registry of "habitual drunkards"); Ashley Moody (who opposes voting rights for people with nonviolent felony convictions and whose office has a website about "Black-on-Black crime"); and Craig Price (the South Dakota Department of Public Safety secretary who sent South Dakota Highway Patrol officers to help violently suppress Dakota Access Pipeline protests).
Frederick Frazier is the only member of the commission who is not active duty law enforcement. However, Frazier is the first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, the police union whose president has been accused of covering up for Amber Guyger after she killed Dallas resident Botham Jean, an unarmed man in his own apartment.
Here in the year 2020, one would hope that a commission about law enforcement would study things like implicit bias and disparities in the criminal justice system. But unfortunately, we somehow ended up in a version of 2020 where wannabe authoritarian white supremacists are running the executive branch of the government, so this is where we are.
Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said: "It's unclear whether this group has commissioners who bring to bear expertise on critical civil rights issues such as racial disparities when it comes to use of excessive or deadly force, stops and searches, and racial profiling. This commission also arises shortly following polarizing statements from Attorney General Barr suggesting that law enforcement need not protect communities that criticize the police."
Clarke said the commission's "agenda is clearly law-enforcement driven and glaringly silent on issues that are front and center for communities of color. This kind of one-sided agenda is not likely to produce action items that will address systemic racial disparities impacting policing today."
Clarke noted that Obama's 11-person task force had a more diverse group of members, with only three from law enforcement. Six of the 11 were people of color. On Trump's commission, three of its 16 members are people of color.
A bunch of white cops are going to brainstorm ways to use propaganda to make people worship and obey white cops.
As Barr wrote in his memo, the committee will focus on issues like
the trend of diminished respect for law enforcement and the laws they enforce[;]
how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.
Just what America needs! More pro-police propaganda!