Spies & Muscle: Holder, Secretive DOJ Group Helped Oust Sanford Sheriff
The Obama administration may have had direct involvement in shaping the Trayvon Martin shooting narrative, including direct involvement in forcing Sanford, FL sheriff Bill Lee to temporarily step down.
An Orlando Sentinel article detailing how the Department of Justice’s secretive Community Relations Service worked to bring about Sheriff Lee’s ouster raises troubling questions about the Obama administration’s involvement, especially when coupled with the cozy relationship that Attorney General Eric Holder has with one of the lead Trayvon Martin agitators, the Rev. Al Sharpton.
What is the DOJ’s Community Relations Service? The Sentinel article, entitled "DOJ 'peacemakers' helped Sanford stay cool amid rising tension," paints a generally rosy, if slightly creepy, picture of the organization and its role during the Trayvon Martin shooting and the aftermath:
In their Navy blue windbreakers, polo shirts and dark sunglasses, they look like federal agents.
Their caps are embroidered with the Justice Department's seal. They watch and listen silently. But they say little publicly.
When reporters try to chat them up, they remain stoic, saying simply they cannot talk to the media.
The peacekeepers have a specific mandate outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act to go into conflict zones within American communities that perceive discrimination or feel wronged because of their particular race, color or national origin.
However, the original mandate of the CRS was expanded with the passage of recent hate crime legislation. A 2010 article by liberal journalist Ryan Reilly on Main Justice quotes former Community Relations Service director Ondray T. Harris as saying the CRS had become more ‘preventative’.
Others give a less positive view of the CRS. One source familiar with the division describes them as “federal spies, federal muscle, all in the guise of mediation.”
The Sentinel quotes a number of people saying positive things about the CRS and their role in Sanford, but all of them appear to be people or organizations who were calling for George Zimmerman’s arrest, such as the Seminole County NAACP.
Despite claiming to be unbiased, DOJ head Eric Holder recently spoke in praise of Al Sharpton, one of the main agitators in the Trayvon Martin story, at an event hosted by Sharpton’s Nation Action Network--at the same time Sharpton was calling for increased civil disobedience.
According to the Sentinel, the Department of Justice and CRS had a hand in bolstering Rev. Al Sharpton’s claim of Police Department bias by helping to facilitate the temporary resignation of Sheriff Bill Lee Jr. from the Stanford Florida Police Department, just two days before President Obama’s Rose Garden statement about Trayvon Martin.
As the Orlando Sentinel reported:
They helped set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police Chief Bill Lee, said Turner Clayton, Seminole County chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"People are more relaxed and satisfied when they know they have someone from the outside, like the DOJ who have no ties to the community to try and relax the emotions," Clayton said
We have previously reported that in 2006, then Senator Barack Obama was involved in a Florida case with Martin’s attorney Benjamin Crump and Rev. Sharpton that acted as the publicity blueprint for the Martin case.
That connection has still not been reported in the mainstream media, and itself raises serious questions about the level of coordination between the Obama administration, Mr. Crump and Rev. Sharpton.