Project 21 Members Call Rumored Federal Lawsuit Against Ferguson Police Department a Misguided Attempt for "Pound of Flesh"
Eric Holder's DOJ Reportedly Plans a Lawsuit Against the Ferguson Police for Racial Discrimination
Any DOJ Lawsuit Would "Ultimately Be a Lawsuit against the Taxpayers"
Ferguson, MO / Washington, D.C. - With the U.S. Department of Justice rumored to be on the verge of filing a lawsuit against the Ferguson Police Department for alleged racial discrimination, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are calling such an act a cynical move by outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder to get a "pound of flesh" before he leaves his post.
"When the grand jury came back with no indictment, and Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department let it leak that they probably would not be able to pursue civil rights charges against former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, it was clear they were still going to try to get their pound of flesh from somewhere. The obvious place to get it is going to be the Ferguson Police Department," said Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a St. Louis area resident who attended the initial prayer service for Michael Brown and witnessed the rioting in Ferguson firsthand. "Ferguson will likely settle the case, and Holder will call this strong-arm tactic a triumph for justice. But it's still questionable that it will satisfy those who, despite overwhelming evidence saying this was a justified shooting, still claim that Michael Brown was assassinated."
In mid-January, it was leaked that the Justice Department would likely not bring civil rights charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown. The shooting, and a grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson, led to riots in Ferguson and elsewhere. In a February 17 speech at the National Press Club, Holder suggested the results of a federal investigation of the Ferguson Police Department for alleged discriminatory tactics could be released before he leaves office (Holder plans to remain until his successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate). Failure to comply with the investigation's recommendations could lead to a federal lawsuit.
"One of this nation's most racially-polarizing figures, Attorney General Eric Holder, is leaving office with threats that he will sue the police department in Ferguson, Missouri," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks, a former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission. "Any claims that Ferguson police acted in racially discriminatory ways appear to be based on Holder's own biased disappointment that white officer Darren Wilson was not found worthy of prosecution by a grand jury for the shooting of a black teenager. And, despite the actions of a willing and compliant Ferguson Police Department, jumping through hoops to comply with the Justice Department's politically-correct nitpicking, Holder now seems set on punishing the department simply to burnish his image with nihilistic hoodlums, street radicals, anarchists and race hustlers. This only adds to his shocking legacy of racial divisiveness."
In late November of 2014, after Officer Wilson was not indicted and resigned from the Ferguson Police Department, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III announced several reforms that included plans for a civilian review board to monitor the police department, scholarships to help recruit more minority officers as well as employment outreach to historically black colleges and universities and an increased stipend for officers who live within city limits. Since then, there have been dozens of applicants for the position vacated by Wilson and another officer, and there are two expected retirements in the near future. It is reported that there are several experienced minority officers among this pool of applicants. Mayor Knowles recently told the local CBS affiliate, "we'll absolutely continue these efforts to seek out a more diverse pool of applicants."
"Having failed in his attempt to bring federal civil rights charges against Officer Darren Wilson, Attorney General Eric Holder now threatens charges against the Ferguson Police Department. When will Holder admit this entire event has been a fiasco of this administration's own making?" asked Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University and a former leadership staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives. "The 'hands up, don't shoot' narrative was a lie, and the Michael Brown shooting itself provided no insight into law enforcement - minority relations. Instead of going after the Ferguson Police Department, the Justice Department should apologize for presuming the worst before the evidence was known. This shoot first, ask questions later civil rights policy is short-sighted and ultimately undermines overall public support for equality."
"The American justice system is far from perfect, but it is one of the best in the world. The Justice Department's imminent threat to bring a lawsuit against the Ferguson Police Department will ultimately be a lawsuit against the taxpayers of that community," said Project 21 member Carl Pittman, a law enforcement professional who has served as a peace officer in National City, California and Harris County, Texas. "Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has apparently not done enough damage. His inability to accept a grand jury decision arrived at through facts and evidence will not only serve to further damage the Ferguson community, it will also solidify his place as one of the worst and most racially divisive attorney generals in our nation's history.
Project 21 has previously issued seven press releases and posted numerous news-oriented blog entries addressing the death of Michael Brown and related events. Project 21 members have completed over 250 interviews on the death of Michael Brown and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere. Several Project 21 members visited the area during and after the rioting, and two members live in the immediate area.
Project 21 members were interviewed or cited by the media over 2,000 times in 2014, including on MSNBC, Fox News Channel, TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, One America News Network, the Orlando Sentinel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations including WHO-Des Moines, KOA-Denver, WGN-Chicago, WBZ-Boston and KDKA-Pittsburgh on topics such as civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, voter ID, race preferences, education, illegal immigration and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 is currently participating in three cases under review by the U.S. Supreme Court and has provided substantial commentary regarding the Ferguson, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner judicial proceedings and their aftermaths. Project 21 defended voter ID laws at the United Nations. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).
Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.