Eric Holder won’t leave quietly.
Two months after he resigned, the first African-American attorney-general in U.S. history remains viscerally engaged in the wrenching, sometimes violent racial fault lines that cleave the nation.
Mr. Holder, 63, has thrown the weight of the federal Justice Department into unfinished civil-rights efforts as the United States reels again from the deaths of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of white police officers – and from the recent decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City not to indict the policemen responsible. Mr. Holder has ordered investigations that could lead to civil-rights prosecutions.
For Mr. Holder, and for millions of black Americans, a deep-seated belief remains that systemic injustice afflicts poorer, urban – and thus mostly black – neighbourhoods. As simmering rage boiled over, Mr. Holder put himself squarely in the spotlight, just as he did last summer when he went to Ferguson, and has pledged Justice Department involvement in ongoing investigations as well as a broader effort to deal with the underlying sense of injustice.
“I’ve seen the criminal justice system firsthand, from nearly every angle,” Mr. Holder told the American Bar Association last year. “We must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is in too many respects broken … a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities.”
As the latest angry protests filled streets in New York and Washington, Mr. Holder this week announced the grim results from a two-year federal investigation that found “a pattern and practice of using excessive force” by Cleveland’s police force and promised probes into other forces. Only days earlier – and not included in the probe of hundreds of violent police-civilian encounters – a 12-year-old black child waving a toy gun was shot and killed by a police officer who fired less than two seconds after his police car slid to a stop in the grassy playground.
Mr. Holder makes no secret of the fact he wants to be remembered as an activist attorney general.
When he quit, Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, the 1960s attorney-general who drove some of the most far-reaching civil-rights reforms before he was assassinated, posted a tribute on his page on the Justice Department website. So did Myrlie Evers, widow of the slain civil-rights leader Medgar Evers, gunned down by a white supremacist. “There has been no greater ally in the fight for justice, civil rights, equal rights, and voting rights,” Mrs. Evers wrote, a view widely shared among African-Americans.
But while he championed sweeping changes in law enforcement and sentencing,he also has been accused of trampling on civil liberties and defying Congress during a tempestuous six years as Mr. Obama’s closest friend and ally in the Cabinet. (He announced he was stepping down in September but would remain at Justice until a successor was confirmed. Given the hostility in the soon-to-be Republican-majority Senate, that could be months.)
It was Mr. Holder who signed off on the secret surveillance of hundreds of millions of phone and e-mail records, provided the justification so Mr. Obama could claim that he had a legal right to target selected U.S. citizens for execution overseas by missile-firing dronesbacked FBI tracking of private cars without warrants, and subpoenaed journalists to force them to reveal sources. Critics note that, on Mr. Holder’s watch, not a single Wall Street prosecution followed the financial meltdown.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suits accusing Mr. Holder of riding roughshod over constitutionally-guaranteed rights even as it applauded his reformist effort to decriminalize racially-tilted drug sentences and reduce prison populations.
In the House of Representatives, a vote holding him in contempt was passed by the Republican majority after he refused to turn over files in a “guns-for-drugs” sting effort that went wrong. “Holder is the most divisive U.S. attorney-general in modern history,” Darrell Issa, the Republican from California, who chairs the oversight committee. “Holder administers justice as the political activist he describes himself as instead, of an unbiased law enforcement official.”
Others regard Mr. Holder as the man Mr. Obama can’t, or won’t, be. Rich Benjamin, essayist and author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America, suggested Mr. Holder was the President’s “aggressive internal mind and voice – willing to speak truth to power, but unbothered with appearing like an angry black man” who, in his first speech as attorney-general, called Americans “a nation of cowards” for “retreating to our race-protected cocoons, where much is comfortable and where progress is not really made.”
For some, Mr. Holder is the leader Mr. Obama turned out not to be.
“For black Americans, Eric Holder has been everything that Obama has not,” Paul Butler, a Georgetown University law professor and former Justice Department attorney, writing in the Washington Post. “The African-Americans who danced in the streets of Harlem when Obama was first elected did not expect that the president would, in four or eight years, reverse centuries of entrenched subjugation. But they did assume he would make racial justice a significant part of his platform. They were sadly mistaken.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Ottawa Police like most police in Ontario, see their duty as one of
protecting their own from criminal charges. Det. Peter Van Der Zander flagrantly
fabricates evidence to NOT charge violent criminals and virtually the entire
Ottawa Police turn a collective blind eye to an outrageous example of a korupt
Ontario Police have no accountability and as a result, they are a collection of criminals and professional child abusers.
Its enough to make you want tear up your Canadian Passport.
Ottawa Mens Centre