US attorney establishes new civil rights task force
Federal, state and local law enforcement pledge to prosecute civil rights violations
US ATTORNEY ANDREW LELLING said Friday that he is establishing a new Civil Rights Task Force to help local and state law enforcement prevent, investigate, and prosecute civil rights violations in Massachusetts.
The announcement comes after the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked a nationwide reckoning over police violence against blacks. Lelling said the last several years have seen an uptick in hate crimes against various groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, coupled with a rise in white supremacist organizations and domestic terrorism.
“Civil rights issues have become urgent law enforcement issues over the last few months,” Lelling said at a press conference announcing the task force.
The task force is modeled after a response that the US Department of Justice crafted to combat violent street crime. It involves partnerships between federal, state and local agencies – so for example, federal resources could be used to support intelligence gathered by the local police. The task force will meet quarterly and will work with a network of civil rights officers at each municipal police force, a position established through a 2018 initiative of the Baker administration.
Lelling announced the task force alongside Terrence Reidy, undersecretary for law enforcement at the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Gina Kwon of the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, and the president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, Jeff Farnsworth.
Ready said the more law enforcement can do visibly to demonstrate that “racist, bigoted, and biased behavior isn’t welcome here” will make Massachusetts a better state.
Farnsworth said the collaboration between agencies is important because often “an issue in one community is an issue in another community.”