What are uniformed field representatives of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Community Relations Service (CRS) doing assisting Occupy/anarchist activists outside the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa?
Exclusive video captured by Breitbart News during Occupy/anarchist demonstrations outside the RNC Tuesday shows CRS field representatives, wearing DOJ logo polo shirts and hats, conversing with Occupy protesters.
In one case, a CRS representative and protester are seen to high-five each other.
CRS representatives are also seen relaying specific instructions to the activists about the location of prearranged buses that were apparently taking them to their next scheduled demonstration.
CRS’s mission, as expressed on its website, is to be a “‘peacemaker’ for community conflicts and tensions.” CRS was created as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a conflict resolution body dealing specifically with community uprisings over racial issues. Its jurisdiction was later expanded as part of The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Obama, which lists the areas in which the CRS can act as including issues of “race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.”
The purpose of CRS is to mediate in ongoing disputes–not to foment them, or to become participants. However, there is evidence that the Obama administration may be using CRS as a quiet community organizing force.
In April, Breitbart News’ Lee Stranahan reported that CRS had helped shape public opinion around the Trayvon Martin case. Building upon reports in the Orlando Sentinel, Stranahan pointed out that CRS representatives may have had “direct involvement” in forcing out Sanford, FL sheriff Bill Lee.
A spokesman for the agency told Breitbart News today that CRS field representatives are supposed to “remain neutral.” When asked if it is appropriate for one of the agents to high-five a demonstrator, he said, “If someone wanted to come up and shake your hand, wouldn’t you do it?….Their job is to keep things safe and nonviolent,” he added.
In what sense do the Occupy/Anarchist protesters fall under the Hate Crimes jurisdiction set forth by law? What were they doing at protests against the RNC? And were they requested by local law enforcement officials, or there on the DOJ’s behalf?
It appears that CRS may be expanding its presence not only in its numbers, but also perhaps beyond its jurisdiction.
As this article went to press, Breitbart News received the following statement from DOJ officials:
Personnel from the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) are currently present in Tampa, Fla., during the Republican National Convention, and will also be present next week in Charlotte, N.C., during the Democratic National Convention. CRS has had a prior presence in cities who have hosted major party conventions, including in 2000, 2004 and 2008, to help facilitate solutions to potential disputes that may arise during the conventions. Acting as an impartial third-party, CRS works closely with community-based organizations, civil and human rights organizations, local governments and law enforcement officials and provides various forms of mediation and conciliation services to help alleviate any tensions that occur.