WASHINGTON — Attorney General Loretta Lynch continuously dodged questions surrounding Hillary Clinton’s email server probe Tuesday morning at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, but one representative decided to target his questions at another issue that has dominated the political conversation across the United States.
“Rome is burning, there’s blood on the streets of many American cities… in our last committee hearing, I implored this committee to do something to have a hearing, to respond to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,” said Democratic Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents parts of Baton Rouge, the city where Sterling was killed.
“Attorney General Lynch, let me ask you, how do you initiate pattern and practice investigation within your civil rights division? And, has the Baton Rouge police department undergone a pattern and practice review?” he asked.
To which Lynch responded by describing “collaborative reform,” a process where the Department of Justice aides police departments in investigating issues with their officers.
“No. Have we done that in Baton Rouge?” pressed Richmond.
“The Department of Justice is beginning the investigation into Mr. Sterling’s death. We will of course be cognizant about issues of the police department that may be raised there,” said Lynch.
Richmond spent the remainder of his time citing incidents of alleged police brutality post-Hurricane Katrina involving Baton Rouge police officers.
“I would just formally ask, that we initiate a pattern and practice investigation on the Baton Rogue Police Department and that is for police departments that may be violating people’s civil rights. I will not make an ultimate conclusion of whether they are or not. I will leave that to you all but I would ask for the investigation,” added Richmond.
Sterling and Castile were both shot by police officers last week and both of their deaths were captured on video.
The deaths have since sparked public outcry and a series of protests around the country, leading to hundreds of arrests over the weekend.
The meeting was held as an oversight of the Justice Department and to “seek information about the disturbing politicization of the Justice Department under the Obama Administration,” among other topics according the the Judiciary Committee’s website.