Holder pursues a federal civil rights case in Ferguson

In many ways, this case is the key to Holder's tenure as attorney general

Topics: Eric Holder, Ferguson, michael brown, Civil Rights, ,

Holder pursues a federal civil rights case in Ferguson FILE - This July 14, 2014 file photo shows Attorney General Eric Holder speaking at the Justice Department in Washington. Holder said Thursday he's concerned about police use of military equipment in Ferguson, Mo.(Credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Members of the media in Ferguson, Missouri, should consider renting some condos, because it doesn’t seem like the grand jury convened to hear evidence regarding Michael Brown’s death will come to a decision any time soon. In an interview with local CNN affiliate KMOV, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said, “The aspirational time is by mid-October to have everything completed.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that protesters who have taken to the streets since Aug. 9 will have to wait months for any sort of legal action. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder could also pursue charges in a federal civil rights case. CNN reports:

The most high-profile figure in President Barack Obama’s administration to visit Ferguson, Holder has stressed that the federal government is on the case and listening — both to protesters calling for Wilson’s arrest and for an end to what they describe as a heavy-handed police response, and to residents and law enforcement officers challenged with looting and violence from some in the crowd.

Holder joined dozens of FBI agents who have swarmed on the eastern Missouri city, as the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division probes the case.

But for charges and a conviction in a federal civil rights case, authorities would have to prove “racial hostility,” according to CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, should they argue that Wilson somehow targeted Brown. Holder himself acknowledged this distinction Wednesday, saying that he hoped all the investigative work being done has a positive impact.



It is rare to see an attorney general taking such personal interest in a case, according to the L.A. Times, and it likely indicates that Holder is attempting to make the fight for civil rights a central aspect of his tenure. “You have to understand where this case comes from and what it means to civil rights under Holder,” said Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department chief spokesman. “Go back to the beginning of his tenure, to his confirmation hearings. He made one of his key promises that he would restore the credibility of the department’s civil rights division. And he is doing that.”

During his confirmation hearings in January 2009, Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee: “The Civil Rights Division is unique. It is in some ways the conscience of the Justice Department. And I think in some ways you can measure the success of an attorney general’s tenure by how the Civil Rights Division has done.”

Joanna Rothkopf

Joanna Rothkopf is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on science, health and society. Follow @JoannaRothkopf or email jrothkopf@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...