Al Sharpton and others are repeating a call made last month for a march on the Civil Rights Division to protest the Bush DoJ’s failure to prosecute hate crimes:

A group of national civil rights leaders came to Washington yesterday to reiterate calls for a massive march next week on the Justice Department to protest what they said was the federal government’s failure to prosecute hate crimes.

Headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, the son of the legendary civil rights leader, the group said the march will start at noon Nov. 16 and proceed seven times around the department’s headquarters, at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

[...]

“It is our feeling that with the increased amount of hate crimes and hate signs — hanging nooses, swastikas — that have gone on around this country unaddressed . . . this Justice Department has been silent, and absent . . . on the cases of civil rights in our times,” Sharpton said.

The DoJ tried to spin its record, saying its prosecuted more civil rights cases than any other in history. Of course, the nature of those cases is different from the original aim of the Civil Rights Division, and they certainly haven’t been on behalf of black civil rights.

Last year, the department charged 22 people with hate crimes. That was down 71% from 76 in 1997.

Meanwhile, the department has charged more people with police misconduct and human trafficking. For example, since 2001, the department has prosecuted 360 people on charges of human trafficking, compared with 89 in the six years before that.

FBI figures show that hate crime reports fell 11% from 1997 to 2005, the most recent year available.

A New York Times article a few months ago pointed out that the entire focus of the Civil Rights Division had shifted to one more suited to the Christian Rights’ agenda, including protecting religious groups that want to descriminate on the basis of religious background or sexual orientation:

The changes are evident in a variety of actions:

¶Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

¶Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

¶Vigorously enforcing a law enacted by Congress in 2000 that allows churches and other places of worship to be free of some local zoning restrictions. The division has brought more than two dozen lawsuits on behalf of churches, synagogues and mosques.

¶Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

¶Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.

The actual number of civil rights cases prosecuted by the Bush DoJ is misleading. Those cases were mostly filed on behalf of their Right leaning religious interests, not in the interest of protecting the civil rights of ethnic minorities.

Of course, there hasn’t been any lack of challenges to black voting rights, some of which have come from within the Civil Rights Division itself.

Nice try guys. But you’re not fooling anyone.

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