While the news media breathlessly await a grand jury’s decision on whether or not a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, Darren Wilson, will be indicted for his shooting and killing of black teenager Michael Brown, a nonpartisan group that investigates government corruption announced on Thursday the release of Justice Department records regarding alleged interference in the Ferguson investigation by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. And the media’s silence was deafening.
The non-profit Judicial Watch obtained documents that reveal the Obama administration had dispatched eight Justice Department Community Relations Service (CRS) agents to Ferguson in the aftermath of the shooting incident — and during the days of protests, vandalism and looting — in response to demands made by NAACP. The DOJ agents included CRS Director Grande Lum and Deputy Director Gilbert Moore.
Set up in 1964, the decidedly secretive CRS, which requires its agents by law to “conduct their activities in confidence,” reportedly has greatly expanded its role under Obama. Although the agency claims to use “impartial mediation practices and conflict resolution procedures,” the released documents suggest that the unit deployed to Ferguson took an active role in working with those demanding the prosecution of police officer Wilson instead of maintaining an unbiased perspective.
From the beginning of the protests that turned into riots, vandalism of private property and looting of local businesses in Ferguson, the news media could not get enough news coverage of NAACP complaints about the police department’s “militarized tactics in their attempts to restore order.” The NAACP chronicling the Ferguson riots on the organization’s website stated, “Michael Brown did not deserve to die” while the NAACP website characterized the local police as “an invading army” and repeatedly voiced the “outrage over the violent response by police in Ferguson,” while demanding that “justice for Michael [be] served.”
The DOJ documents were obtained by Judicial Watch in response to its Aug. 14, 2014, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request after a two and one-half month wait. The DOJ turned over records that described how taxpayers were billed $15,000 just for travel expenses to send eight CRS agents (including the CRS Director and Deputy Director) to Ferguson between August 10 and September 3.
On August 29, CRS officials held a “community meeting” with the NAACP that, according to St. Louis Public Radio, also served as platform to discuss the importance of voting in affecting change, noted Judicial Watch. “Here you had a kid killed — whether justified or not he’s dead — and these DOJ minions and NAACP race-baiters were talking about how to get out the black vote in the next election,” said former police detective and U.S. Marine Sid Franes, himself an African American. “The kid’s body wasn’t even in the grave and these political vultures are concerned with reelecting Democrats. Remember this is the DOJ’s government employees talking with a tax-exempt civil rights group conspiring on how to use the tragedy in Ferguson to get votes,” Franes said.