Eric Holder, Part 7


In August 2014, Holder said: “If you want to call me an activist attorney general, I will proudly accept that label. Any attorney general who is not an activist is not doing his or her job.” Noting the criticisms of those who had complained that the Justice Department had an “activist civil rights division and … an activist attorney general,” Holder added: “I’d say I agree with you 1,000 percent and [I am] proud of it.”

On August 11, 2014, Holder’s DOJ launched a federal investigation into the fatal police shooting two days earlier of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black male who had forcibly robbed a convenience store in a St. Louis suburb (Ferguson, Missouri) just 10 minutes before his death. Brown’s death sparked accusations of police misconduct and racism, and led to several days of violent rioting and looting by local blacks.

Participating in the DOJ probe were the Department’s Civil Rights Division along with FBI agents from the St. Louis field office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The aim of the investigation was to determine whether the officer who fired the fatal shots had violated Brown’s civil rights. “The shooting incident in Ferguson, Missouri this weekend deserves a fulsome review,” said Holder. “At every step, we will work with the local investigators, who should be prepared to complete a thorough, fair investigation in their own right. I will continue to receive regular updates on this matter in the coming days.”

On August 20, President Obama, in an effort to demonstrate the federal government’s concern over the death of Michael Brown, dispatched Holder to Ferguson. There, the attorney general met with the family of Michael Brown and told the young protesters that he well understood their distrust of law-enforcement officers:
“I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man. I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over … ‘Let me search your car’ … Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating this was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”
In early September 2014, Holder ordered the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to expand the Michael Brown probe and examine whether the Ferguson police department regularly employed policies and practices that had resulted in a broad pattern of civil-rights violations. This new investigation also focused on other police departments in St. Louis County, some of which were predominantly white departments serving majority-black communities.

The Washington Post reported on September 4, 2014: “The number of police department reviews the Justice Department has initiated under Holder for possible constitutional violations is twice that of any of his predecessors. At least 34 other departments are under investigation for alleged civil rights violations.”

Racial tensions in Ferguson remained high during the ensuing weeks, as radicals like Al Sharpton, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the New Black Panther Party worked tirelessly to advance a false narrative which maintained that the officer had killed Brown in cold blood while the latter’s hands were raised in the air to indicate peaceful, submissive surrender. When compelling ballistic, eyewitness, and forensic evidence eventually (in late October 2014) indicated that Brown in fact had assaulted the officer and tried to steal his gun just prior to the fatal shooting, the radicals’ fanatical rage over the incident was undiminished. Threats abounded that riots would break out if the grand jury which was examining the evidence did not ultimately indict the officer.

Holder, for his part, was deeply angered and “exasperated” by the fact that the aforementioned evidence (exonerating the officer) had been leaked to the press, perhaps by someone seeking to avert the possibility of street riots. Characterizing the leaks as inappropriate attempts to shape public opinion in the case, the attorney general said: “Whoever the sources of the leaks are need to shut up.” And notwithstanding the fact that the evidence now indicated that there had been no police wrongdoing in the Michael Brown case, Holder told reporters on October 29, 2014: “I think it’s pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that [Ferguson police] department is appropriate.”

On November 17, 2014 — with reports (including an FBI warning) abounding that the long-anticipated grand jury verdict regarding the Michael Brown shooting would be announced soon — Holder likened Brown’s death to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teen who in 1955 was kidnapped by two white men in Mississippi who beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, shot him in the head, and dumped his body into the Tallahatchie River. Said Holder: “The struggle goes on. And it’s not only Ferguson, there are other communities around our country where we are dealing with relationships that are not what they should be, be they official communities they are supposed to serve or whether it’s on a more personal level. There is [an] enduring legacy that Emmett Till has left with us that we still have to confront as a nation.”

At a U.S. Capitol event that same day — a tree-planting ceremony in honor of Emmett Till’s memory — Holder issued some remarks emphasizing America’s history of racism:
“Nearly six decades have passed since the terrible night when young Emmett Till … was abducted, in the early-morning darkness, by violent men with hatred in their hearts. Yet even today, the pain from this unspeakable crime, this unspeakable tragedy, still feels raw — perhaps because those responsible for this hate crime were never held to account. Or perhaps because … our nation’s journey — along the road to equality, acceptance and opportunity for all — is not yet complete. And perhaps because our history — including our recent history — is dotted with the stories of far too many other Emmett Tills, Matthew Shepards[1], and James Byrds[2]: talented, thriving people, many of them young, with promising futures stretching out before them — all cut down, brutally and unnecessarily, because of what they looked like or who they were.”
A grand jury announced on November 24, 2014 that it would not indict the officer who had gunned down Michael Brown — because of overwhelming evidence indicating that the shooting was done in self-defense. In response to that announcement, Holder said that the Justice Department would nonetheless continue to “investigate allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department”; that “this incident has sparked a national conversation about the need to ensure confidence between law enforcement and the communities they protect and serve”; and that “in the coming days, it will … be important for local law enforcement authorities to respect the rights of demonstrators and deescalate tensions by avoiding excessive displays—and uses—of force.”

A few days later, in an early December speech he delivered in Atlanta, Holder said “our overall system of justice must be strengthened and it must be made more fair,” so as to lessen the likelihood that nonwhites will view the police as an “occupying force.” He also pledged to update Justice Department guidelines in order to “institute rigorous new standards and robust safeguards to help end racial profiling once and for all.”


According to records obtained by The Daily Caller through a Freedom of Information Act request, Holder has commonly flown on chartered, government-owned Gulfstream V jets for personal and recreational trips. Like other top government officials, however, he has not been required to reimburse the government for the total cost of chartering those planes, but only to pay the equivalent cost of a coach commercial airline ticket for himself and each non-law enforcement passenger accompanying him. For one $15,000 flight in 2010, for instance, Holder reimbursed the government $421. Similarly, in June 2014 he reimbursed the government $955 for a $14,440 flight he took with four companions to Elmont, New York, to attend the final leg of the Triple Crown horse races. In 2013, the Government Accountability Office released a report stating that these government jets were meant to be used for counter-terrorism actions, not for personal activities.


On September 24, 2014, Holder announced that he would soon resign from his post as Attorney General. He would stay on, he added, until his successor was named and confirmed by the Senate.


Upon Holder’s announcement that he would soon be resigning, Al Sharpton said that his own civil rights organization, the National Action Network, was already “engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General Holder.” “The resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder is met with both pride and disappointment by the Civil Rights community,” added Sharpton. “We are proud that he has been the best Attorney General on Civil Rights in U.S. history, and disappointed because he leaves at a critical time when we need his continued diligence most.”


On November 8, 2014, President Obama nominated U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to succeed Holder as Attorney General.


On December 8, 2014, Holder announced the implementation of an expanded policy that would prohibit federal agents from profiling based on gender, religion, national origin, and “gender identity.” These new restrictions would be added to already-existent rules against profiling based on race.

[1] Matthew Shepard was a young homosexual in Laramie, Wyoming who in October 1998 was tortured and killed by two men who were widely reported to be hateful, bigoted homophobes. But in fact, Shepard and one of his killers were friends who had partied together, bought drugs from one another, and even had sex together.
[2] James Byrd was a black Texas man who in 1998 was chained to the back of a truck and dragged to his death by three white men.

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