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DOJ's George Zimmerman Intervention Exposes Politicized Obama Justice Department
Former Head of Zimmerman Investigation on Rumored Short List to Replace Eric Holder
Responding to a report that the U.S. Department of Justice will not file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, a legal expert with the Project 21 black leadership network said federal intervention was a mistake from the beginning and something any new nominee for attorney general should pledge to avoid during his or her tenure.
Understanding the Obama Administration's politicization of the case could become extremely important if President Obama nominates Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who oversaw the Zimmerman investigation while working at the Justice Department, to become the next Attorney General.
"A federal civil rights investigation was premature and more the result of a politicized Justice Department than any actual interest in justice," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a legal commentator who taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia and is a former leadership legal counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives. "It should have never been initiated. After two years, it's clear there isn't a case and there never was."
Zimmerman, while participating in a Sanford, Florida neighborhood watch program, shot and killed Trayvon Martin during a fight in February of 2012. Zimmerman is white and Hispanic and Martin was black. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July of 2013. Attorney General Eric Holder began a separate federal investigationof the incident that is being handled by DOJ's Civil Rights Division. Anonymous officials recently told the Washington Post there is insufficient evidence to bring federal charges against Zimmerman, and the investigation may soon be closed.
Before becoming Secretary of Labor in July of 2013, Perez headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. He is now considered to be among the likely nominees to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General.
"I said from the beginning that the Justice Department's announcement of a civil rights investigation against George Zimmerman was meritless and that the federal government should give the local community a chance to investigate before rushing to judgment," added Project 21's Cooper. "Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder and his team did just the opposite by funding race-agitators in Sanford and helping stoke division among blacks and whites."
After the shooting, the Justice Department deployed members of its Community Relations Service to the Sanford area to allegedly mitigate racial tensions. Critics say the CRS actually used taxpayer dollars to help coordinate events protesting Martin's death and have obtained documents through Freedom of Information Act requests that appear to prove this assertion.
Noting that federal action regarding the Zimmerman case reflects poorly on the leadership of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, Project 21's Cooper said the Justice Department's failure in this instance should be addressed during confirmation proceedings for his successor. Cooper said: "There is a high bar for federal civil rights indictments -- and rightly so. By attempting to shoehorn a potential indictment in this case, Eric Holder breached his responsibilities as the chief law enforcer of the land. Moreover, the Holder Justice Department misled the American people, and black Americans in particular, about the circumstances of this case. Using the FBI and federal prosecutors to intimidate Zimmerman was not just unfair, it was an abuse of power. The American people deserve better. Hopefully, during the hearings for his replacement, any new Attorney General nominee will commit to ending such abuses. This would be especially important if the nominee is Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who led the Civil Rights Division between the death of Trayvon Martin and the end of the Zimmerman trial."
In 2014, Project 21 members have already been interviewed or cited by media almost 1,500 times, including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Orlando Sentinel, Fox News Channel, CNN, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio, Conservative Commandos and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as WBZ-Boston, WJR-Detroit and KDKA-Pittsburgh, on issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 also has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights and defended voter ID laws at the United Nations.
During the Zimmerman trial last year, Project 21 members posted regular analysis of the proceedings as well as commented on the verdict. Project 21 members were interviewed or cited on at least 150 occasions, including the Los Angeles Times, Fox News Channel, New Republic, WGN-Chicago, U.S. News and World Report, Voice of America and the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.