The Justice Department’s Planned Law Enforcement Overhaul Closely Aligns With Progressive Demands

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James Lynch Contributor
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The Justice Department’s plan to expand its anti-discrimination policy and reduce the scope of federal law enforcement activities closely resembles the demands made by progressive activist organizations pressuring the DOJ.

Civil rights groups met with the Justice Department on Thursday to discuss issues such as President Joe Biden’s implementation of his executive order on “Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety,” issued on May 25, 2022, to honor the death of George Floyd. The executive order kickstarted the Justice Department’s efforts to reassess the 2014 Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the “Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity.”

“Department leadership pledged to continue robust civil rights enforcement in line with the Attorney General’s commitment to a department-wide approach to civil rights and to thoughtfully engaging communities on the issues that impact them,” the Justice Department said in a press release Thursday.

Prior to the meeting, a coalition of over 50 organizations led by the Brennan Center for Justice, a left-wing law and policy organization, published on May 2 its recommendations for Attorney General Merrick Garland’s reassessment of the 2014 anti-discrimination guidelines issued by the Obama administration. Other demands by the left-wing groups address immigration enforcement at the southern border, investigations of alleged Chinese espionage, and surveillance of Muslim Americans as part of the War on Terror. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: DOJ Plans To Commemorate George Floyd’s Death By Announcing New Law Enforcement Policy)

Prominent left-wing groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Immigration Law Center and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund are among the activist groups who wrote to Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“We appreciate the discussions many of our organizations have had with your departments already, and strongly urge your departments to seize this opportunity to issue comprehensive and meaningful antidiscrimination policies that finally end biased profiling by your agencies, including in their partnerships with state and local law enforcement,” the groups wrote in a letter.

The organizations advocate for expanding the anti-discrimination guidelines to ensure nationality and national origin are not “used as a proxy to discriminate” against individuals based on their race, ethnicity or religion. The Justice Department plans on adding nationality to its list of protected characteristics, according to internal documents provided to the Daily Caller by a source who requested anonymity out of fear of professional retribution.

Portions of the DOJ’s draft proposal to update its anti-discrimination guidelines were included in the documents. Under the DOJ’s new anti-discrimination guidelines, agents will be prohibited from taking into account a suspect’s “actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, sex characteristics, disability status, or gender identity,” the documents obtained by the Daily Caller show.

FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers will also be limited in their ability to infiltrate foreign terrorist organizations, as the Daily Caller previously reported based on the documents. Agents will no longer be able to use ethnicity when developing sources within foreign terrorist organizations. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: New DOJ Policy Proposal Would Limit FBI Infiltration Of Terrorist Groups, Docs Show)

In addition, the progressive groups support expanding the anti-discrimination guidelines to cover more law enforcement activities. The DOJ’s 2014 guidelines distinguish between “routine or spontaneous” law enforcement practices where the guidelines apply, and investigative activities where officers are provided more leeway. The left-wing groups who wrote to Garland believe the DOJ should remove the distinction and apply the guidelines across the board, which the department plans on following through with, the documents show.

Another point of expansion identified by progressives would be applying the guidelines to the state and local level. The 2014 guidance excludes state and local law enforcement, which limits the federal government’s ability to address alleged police bias, the activists say.

Under the DOJ’s proposed revisions, federal law enforcement officers will be prohibited from identifying “high crime areas” and using community crime statistics to identify areas for law enforcement to target, the Daily Caller previously reported based on the documents. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: DOJ Proposal Would Ban FBI Agents From Using Community Crime Statistics In Law Enforcement, Docs Show)

The DOJ is expected to release its updated anti-discrimination guidelines on May 25 to honor the death of George Floyd, a source familiar with the proceedings previously told the Daily Caller.

Floyd’s death in May 2020 at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer was the catalyst for months of protests and riots by Black Lives Matter activists who called for defunding urban police departments. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced in June 2021 to over 20 years in prison for Floyd’s murder.

The widespread demonstrations correlated with a surge in violent crime across urban areas, with the murder rate increasing by 30% in 2020, FBI data reviewed by the Heritage Foundation shows. Likewise, youth homicides spiked 47% in 2020, data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) demonstrates.