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Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Takes Action Following Trump Administration’s Decision To Eliminate DOJ’s Critical “Peacemaker” Office Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964

For Immediate Release February 13, 2018

National Civil Rights Organization Responds to Cut Included in President Trump’s Budget with FOIA Request To DOJ and Other Agencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One day after President Trump effectively called for the end of the Community Relations Service (CRS) office within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) through his FY2019 budget request, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law pressed the Administration for answers on its decision to eliminate this important agency.

Through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sent Tuesday to DOJ, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law seeks to learn how the Administration can actually uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1964 while at the same time shuttering a key government agency created through the landmark law.  Known as the “Peacekeeper” within DOJ, CRS helps communities develop the capacity to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.  With the alarming rise in hate incidents and hate crimes nationwide, and the surge in violent tensions sparked by white supremacists and other bigots across the country, the work of the CRS is more critical than ever.

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said:

“We are deeply disturbed by this administration’s decision to eliminate an office within the Justice Department that has performed a critical ‘peacemaking’ role since passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Through our series of FOIA requests, we seek records and documents to shed light on how this administration arrived at its decision to phase out this critical office.  The misguided decision to eliminate the Community Relations Service is fully at odds with events transpiring across the country including growing racial tensions, rising hate crimes, violent white supremacist rallies and other tumultuous events.  We will continue to use the law as a tool to bring needed transparency to the way in which this administration is turning the clock back on civil rights in our country.”

Becky Monroe, Director of the Stop Hate Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and former Acting Director of CRS in the Obama administration said:

“Respect for the wisdom and power of communities to combat hate defines the unique work of the Community Relations Service.  When I served as Acting Director, I saw firsthand the impact dedicated public servants had in skillfully working with local community leaders to address racial tensions and respond more effectively to hate incidents and hate crimes.  Civil rights are under attack, and we cannot afford to undermine federal laws that enable us to fulfill the promise of equal justice for all.”

To read the FOIA request sent Tuesday, click here.

About The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers' Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The Lawyers' Committee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 as it continued its quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.

For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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