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American Hero: Coates Negates a Year of Justice Department Spin on New Black Panther Case

We no longer must consult history for a lawyer-hero willing to take personal risk for sacred principles such as the rule of law and racial equality. Our age can claim Christopher Coates.

by
J. Christian Adams

Bio

September 23, 2010 - 5:28 am

He testified, as I did, that Justice Department attorneys and staff flatly refused to work on cases where the wrongdoer was black:

[An attorney told Coates in] no uncertain terms that he had not come to the Voting Section to sue African American defendants. … One of the social scientists who worked in the Voting Section and whose responsibility it was to do past and present research into a local jurisdiction’s history flatly refused to participate in the investigation. On another occasion, a Voting Section career attorney informed me that he was opposed to bringing voting rights cases against African American defendants … until we reached the day when the socio-economic status of blacks in Mississippi was the same as the socio-economic status of whites living there.

All of the employees Coates discusses here are still employed by the Civil Rights Division.

I testified that DOJ officials have made inaccurate statements to the public, to Congress, and to the Civil Rights Commission about the NBPP dismissal. Coates agreed, and testified:

I do not believe the representations to this Commission accurately reflect what occurred in the NBPP case and do not reflect the hostile atmosphere that has existed within the Civil Rights Division for a long time against race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Coates also said that he was testifying because the Department has made misrepresentations to Congress, to the Civil Rights Commission, and to the public, sometimes under oath.

Coates described the significance of these misrepresentations. He testified:

If incorrect representations are going to successfully thwart an inquiry into the systemic problems regarding race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act by the Civil Rights Division, problems that were manifested in the disposition of the NBPP case, that end is not going to be furthered or accomplished by my sitting silently by at the direction of my supervisors while incorrect information is provided. I do not believe that I am professionally, ethically, legally, much less, morally bound to allow such a result to occur.

Coates provided even more detail about a disgusting case of racially motivated harassment that occurred in the Voting Section:

A young African American who worked in the Voting Section as a paralegal volunteered to work on the Ike Brown case, and he later volunteered to work on the NBPP case. Because of his participation in the Ike Brown case, he and his mother, who was an employee in another Section of the Civil Rights Division, were harassed by an attorney in that other Section and by an administrative employee and a paralegal in the Voting Section.

The employees responsible for this disgusting behavior should be fired, or should resign in shame. The perpetrators know who they are — and so does the political leadership. They are not fit to work in the Civil Rights Division.

There was much howling and complaining about the Bush administration hiring attorneys without experience working for left-wing civil rights groups. But now the public learns the truth: perpetrators of genuine racial harassment and gangster intimidation infest the Civil Rights Division, worked for civil rights groups, and were not hired by the Bush administration. (Look for more details here at PJM in a future article about the individuals responsible.)

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