What Sessions Really Thinks About Police violence comes out
The relationship between police violence and minorities is a problem that goes all the way back to the post-Civil War era, where freed slaves had to deal with the antagonism and hatred of recovering Confederates. Yet it continues to painfully resonate today, and has only recently begun to get the attention it truly deserves thanks to the efforts of both former President Obama, who signed the Hate Crimes Act, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist movement, dedicated to raising awareness for violence against minorities.
BLM was formed in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer St. Louis, after which his body was left in the street for hours. This was the culmination of a great deal of media attention to the subject of police brutality towards towards ethnic minorities, African Americans in particular, that began with coverage of the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, which outraged the nation. Since then, hundreds of black men, children, and teenagers have all been the victims of police violence, with only a handful of them getting national scrutiny, including: Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose, and Walter Scott.
Scott is of particular importance today as his killer, Michael Slager, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. 20 years is unfortunately nothing compared to the life sentence the man deserves, as he was caught on video shooting at an unarmed Scott fleeing for his life. But considering the numerous policemen and women that have been completely absolved of their visible murder, this is progress, especially in the same state that gave us Lindsey Graham.
Police violence will continue to remain a problem in the criminal justice system unless our legal system does something to address the problem. But with an Attorney General like Jeff Sessions, don’t expect any development of that sort to occur as a video has started to circle the web from a private summer event that was hosted for interns in the Department of Justice. It all seemed to be going well for Sessions until it came to the Q&A section, where Sessions was hit with inquiries from some very smart law students, who asked about many subjects that have been in the news, often from a personal perspective.
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The first one, for example, was Charlie Fletcher from Harvard Law, who asked Sessions about what the Justice Department planned to do to protect the civil rights of transgender students in light of President Trump’s ban on transgenders serving in the military. Sessions chose to dodge the question by maintaining the lie that the Department would work to protect everyone’s liberties; except when it came to “states’ rights” – GOP code for anything the Federal government does that they don’t like.
Things got particularly heated when a Berkeley Law student named Sean Litteral began to press Sessions on what the Justice Department would do about excessive police force. Sessions began by dismissing the man as being someone from “Berkeley”, a liberal college town conservatives love to hate, even though he grew up in a poor Columbus Ohio project. Ignoring the man’s attempt to interject that fact, Sessions steamrolls right over him, past a lukewarm assurance of prosecuting police violence, and on to what he REALLY wanted to do: advocating a return to “traditional police activities”.
What did Sessions mean by that? Well, he quickly specified programs like “broken windows”, and “community policing” – which of course both focus on cracking down on poor and ethnic neighborhoods. The “broken windows” method was even used to rationalize an invasive “stop and frisk” policy, which in practice seemed to focus on bothering people of color just going about their business, and subjecting them to random, unprovoked searches.
In other words, when asked about people in America fearing the police, Sessions remarkably says the solutions ISN’T reigning in the police, it’s the opposite. When he says we need to return to “traditional” policing, he transparently means instead of actually combating the problem of police violence towards, murder of, and harassment of minorities, communities that have tried to stop that, should just go right back to doing that. In a very round-a-bout way he’s saying black lives DON’T matter. Not to him. No matter what empty, boilerplate assurances to the contrary he just finished making. It’s a remarkable piece of video, that says a lot about the kind of Top Cop we have in Trump’s ‘Merica.
Check out the video below of the Q & A, courtesy of ABC News:
Featured image composite by Reverb Press, of photos by Pool/Getty Images and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
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