The federal Department of Justice is supposed to represent the highest law of the land, serve as an unimpeachable defender of American constitutional rights and the final protector of those who face abuse, in particular at the hands of those who act under color of law.
What is supposed to be and what exists are eons away. The reality is Attorney General Bill Barr, who is supposed to be the lawyer for the people of the United States, is nothing more than an enabler of the president and in no way represents fairness, balance or justice.
He has shown a penchant for lying like his boss and no thought of giving justice to Black people, especially those who are killed or injured by rogue cops. Not that the Justice Dept. has a great record for going after killer cops, it does not. Under the Obama administration, the president met with cops and activists and talked about “restoring trust,” best practices for policing and pushed consent decrees to get police departments to do better. All the talk with police agencies around the country basically went nowhere, police departments dragged their feet on consent decrees and many still have the same problems of deadly, abusive cops, little accountability and little transparency. Remember, Black Lives Matter emerged during the Obama administration in the face of police violence and weak responses to police wrongdoing.
Mr. Barr, however, makes a bad situation worse. His Justice Dept. doesn’t even put up the pretense of holding any cops accountable and has made clear consent decrees aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. He is reactionary, arrogant, myopic and the perfect fit for a president who boasts of cracking down on peaceful protestors in the name of law and order—even when mayors say Trump intervention discourages law and order and inflames conflict.
Salon.com called Bill Barr, “The most dangerous man in America,” in a recent article because of his commitment to a president with no respect for civil liberties, freedom of assembly or the right to protest. Mr. Barr joined the president in the infamous escapade where peaceful protestors were teargassed, bludgeoned, bullied and bloodied to make way for a photo op outside of an historic church near the White House. Afterward, in typical Barr fashion, he played dumb.
Mr. Barr, in a recent CNN interview, showed again who he is and why he is a danger to Black people. He denied that structural racism exists in police departments, saying there may be some problems with some departments and there is a Black perception that they are treated differently. Black folk are not dealing with perception when it comes to police and criminal justice system bias: “About 1,000 civilians are killed each year by law-enforcement officers in the United States. By one estimate, Black men are 2.5 times more likely than White men to be killed by police during their lifetime. And in another study, Black people who were fatally shot by police seemed to be twice as likely as White people to be unarmed,” said Nature magazine. “Data from California show that police stopped and used force against Black people disproportionately, compared with other racial groups, in 2018. A December 2019 paper reported that bias in police administrative records results in many studies underestimating levels of racial bias in policing, or even masking discrimination entirely,” added Nature in an article titled, “What the data say about police brutality and racial bias—and which reforms might work.”
Then there was the lie Mr. Barr recited to CNN host Wolf Blitzer about the Rev. Jesse Jackson, saying the civil rights leader was more afraid of Black men walking behind him then White men. False. Rev. Jackson never said any such thing. Part of what he said in 1993: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then (I) look around and see someone White and feel relieved.”
What Rev. Jackson was talking about were the levels of violence Black men committed on Black men at a time when headlines were reading things like, “Black+Male= Genocide” and “Black Men Are An Endangered Species.” He was expressing his pain that after facing the outright violence and murderous intentions of White people, it was painful that there were such high levels of Black males hurting and killing one another. It was not an exoneration of racism or a declaration that Black men were criminals. It was his feeling about a harsh reality we still face. Mr. Barr, however, and his ilk used that pain to try to make Rev. Jackson a witness against his own people and witness for the credibility of change in American society. Liars lie. They keep lying and repeat their lies.
The other reality is interpersonal violence is largely intra-racial violence because of where people live and who they interact with—often based on old patterns of segregation. Whites mostly kill Whites and Blacks mostly kill Blacks.
That doesn’t excuse killer cops who get away with murder under the color of law and doesn’t negate the reality that Black people, about 12 percent or 13 percent of the U.S. population, are about 30 percent of those killed by cops.
Then Mr. Barr lied about the case of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot at least seven times in the back by a White police officer in Kenosha, Wisc. Mr. Barr insisted that Mr. Blake was armed and committing a felony when shot and paralyzed from the waist down. He didn’t offer any proof or source. The shooting is still under investigation by authorities in the state of Wisconsin and supposedly under federal investigation by the Justice Dept. We don’t have to guess how that investigation will likely turn out.
But the Blake video that sparked outrage and anger across America doesn’t show any weapon.
We won’t even get into the attorney general’s defense of voter fraud in standing by President Trump’s call for supporters who vote by mail to also vote in person. Voting twice is illegal, but Mr. Barr wasn’t sure the act wasn’t against the law.
When will it end, where will it end? Sadly, it won’t. Like incidents of police violence and police murders that are uncovered day after day, justice isn’t coming from the Justice Dept., or any other American institution. While it may be a painful admission for some Black people, Whites will never allow us to live in peace. The only permanent solution is separation in a state or territory of our own—where our own Dept. of Justice will protect our rights.
‘Black folk are not dealing with perception when it comes to police and criminal justice system bias: About 1,000 civilians are killed each year by law-enforcement officers in the United States. By one estimate, Black men are 2.5 times more likely than White men to be killed by police during their lifetime.’