Prosecutor alleges Department of Justice bias - Josh Gerstein
By JOSH GERSTEIN | 9/24/10 10:52 AM EDT Updated: 9/24/10 12:37 PM EDT
A Justice Department prosecutor defied his superiors by testifying at a U.S. Civil Rights Commission hearing Friday, where he leveled a potentially explosive allegation: top “political appointees” in the department systematically gutted a voter intimidation case against a fringe African American militant group because the suspects were black and their alleged victims were white.
The prosecutor, Christopher Coates, also said the downgrading of the case against the New Black Panther Party was evidence of the dominant Justice Department culture, which discouraged “race neutral” enforcement of civil rights laws, frowned on prosecuting minority perpetrators and folded under pressure from black and Latino rights groups. Coates told the panel that the culture intensified in 2009 – and led to his demotion from leading the voting rights division – after President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder took office.
Though video showed two members in paramilitary gear harassing whites outside a polling place in Philadelphia, Coats said, his supervisors downplayed the case because the alleged perpetrators were black and their victims were white. Yet if the two suspects were white-robed Ku Klux Klansmen instead of black radicals in fatigues and combat boots, Coates told the panel, there would have been widespread uproar and demands for justice.
Read more: politico.com