Justice Department Has Grassroots Reform Groups Hot Under The Blue Collar

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POPULAR, Inc. (POPULAR) is a grassroots legal reform organization named after the acronym for Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Reformed. As its first year anniversary approaches, the group celebrates by publicizing its first report card on the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division for the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The division section got high grades for good manners but “incompletes” and an “F” in substantive performance areas as well as an “F” for persistence due to its limited prosecutions of 18 U.S.C. sections 241 and 242 violations.

POPULAR, Inc. (POPULAR) is a grassroots legal reform organization named after the acronym for Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Reformed. As its first year anniversary approaches, the group celebrates by publicizing its first report card on the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division for the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The division section got high grades for good manners but “incompletes” and an “F” in substantive performance areas as well as an “F” for persistence due to its limited prosecutions of 18 U.S.C. sections 241 and 242 violations.    

The report card is an outgrowth of POPULAR’s “Obama Lights The Way” campaign, referencing President Barack Obama’s ability to influence DOJ priorities.

Before President Obama took office, POPULAR wrote him noting a need to redirect the DOJ, describing it as “more responsive to power, wealth and . . . prestige than compelling evidence of criminal civil, constitutional, and human rights violations.”

This summer, POPULAR intensified its call for the DOJ to protect America's poor and middle class. The group vowed to continually submit compelling evidence of 18 U.S.C. sections 241 (conspiracy against rights) and 242 (deprivation of rights under color of law) violations to the DOJ.

POPULAR essentially grades the Criminal Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division by assessing “whether its staff members are fair, which involves grading everything from their cordiality, attentiveness, and promptness, to their reasonableness, general competence, persistence, and effectiveness.”

“We call it gauging the agency’s POPULARITY” says Zena Crenshaw-Logal, POPULAR’s Executive Director. She adds, “on its first report card, the DOJ scores high on form, but low on substance.”

Elaborating, POPULAR's board member Dr. Andrew D. Jackson credits the DOJ with responding “promptly and courteously by phone and in writing to our first case submission and related inquiries.” But in doing so Dr. Jackson explains, the agency suggests its 241 and 242 enforcements are “generally limited to prosecuting the use of excessive physical force or sexual abuse by law enforcement officers.”

“As much as POPULAR and its allies abhor misconduct at every tier of law enforcement, we cannot condone unwarranted disparities in prosecuting white versus blue collar crimes against civil, constitutional, and human rights” says Dr. Glenn Vickers-Bey, a POPULAR board member. Echoing his sentiments is Dr. Richard Olivito, a pioneer in addressing police brutality through consent decree and CEO of the Midwest Center for Constitutional Rights.

Olivito notes that “the original understanding of these constitutional civil rights sanctions admitted no immunities to any level of state or local actor or official; the idea that the prosecutor is absolutely immune does not express the 14th Amendment's original intent nor that of the original civil rights laws - nor does it promote democratic freedoms, inside an open society."

Interestingly, the U.S. Solicitor General makes passing reference to 18 U.S.C. section 242 in a recent brief condoning absolute prosecutorial immunity. The underlying case is Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, petition number 08-1065 before the U.S. Supreme Court.

As teenagers, African Americans Curtis McGhee and Terry Harrington were reportedly convicted of murdering a retired Caucasian police officer in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and sentenced to life in prison. After serving 25 years of that sentence, evidence revealed that their prosecutors fabricated critical trial testimony and failed to disclose evidence about an alternative suspect.

McGhee and Harrington were freed from prison and are attempting to sue their prosecutors for civil and constitutional rights violations. Our U.S. Solicitor General encouraged the U.S. Supreme Court to disallow that litigation, contending “Adequate Safeguards Exist Against Prosecutors’ Illegal Behavior.”

In contrast, “Black Cops Against Police Brutality” submit that “Prosecutors Should Not Be Held To A Lower Standard Than Uniformed Officers.” The officers’ Supreme Court brief explains “(f) rom the standpoint of fairness, we are troubled by the prospect that after the law enforcement team is shown to have crossed the line into illegality, the white-collar prosecutors with better reason to know the line will be seen to walk away, while the blue-collar police with less reason to know the line will be held to answer.”

Such is the case so far for George Stokes, Michayl Mellen, their respective children, the families of Juan Manuel Albarado as well as Moishe Curtis Turner and other impacted residents of Taylor County, Texas. Evidence of what may be criminal attempts to chill their First Amendment Rights was submitted as complaint number 7709 to the DOJ.

The DOJ claims it is “unable to authorize investigation of (the referenced) complaint . . .” until such time that it involves “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials.”

“As a national organization, POPULAR will not sit idly by as our members face local retaliation for helping us defend inalienable rights” says Crenshaw-Logal. Staunch supporter of that position and POPULAR is Dr. Shirley Moore, president of Disclosure Watch, a national judicial reform group.

Moore is particularly sensitive to local retaliation for national advocacy. Her group’s spokesperson, Dr. Richard I. Fine, has been in jail for several months on questionable contempt charges despite his long distinguished legal career and advanced age. Fine’s case is cause number BS 109420 before Department 86 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Moore interjects, “unless the DOJ Civil Rights Division has become a blue collar crime unit, it should reasonably protect Americans from all serious violations of their federal rights.”

Today POPULAR supplemented its referenced complaint number 7709 with additional evidence of arguable retaliation in or related to Taylor County, Texas. The group continually receives requests for assistance and will soon make additional submissions to the DOJ. Its international outreach also continues for Dr. Fine and other whistleblowers.

To learn more and view related documents, visit http://www.popular4people.org/OLTW_newsroom.html

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Zena Crenshaw Logal
POPULAR, Inc.
888 478 4439 ext. 2
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