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DOJ To Open Memphis Civil Rights Unit

MEMPHIS -  Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez traveled to Memphis to join U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III in announcing the creation of a Civil Rights Unit in the Western District of Tennessee.  Perez and Stanton made the announcement at the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.  The site reflects Memphis’ commitment to both remembering and overcoming its troubled civil rights history.

 The new Civil Rights Unit will enhance the U.S. Attorney’s ability to enforce federal civil rights laws in the Western District of Tennessee, ensuring that all individuals enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.  With dedicated prosecutors and a formal arrangement to work with the many agencies that investigate potential civil rights crimes, the Unit will prosecute the full spectrum of federal civil rights crimes, including official misconduct, human trafficking, hate crimes, housing discrimination cases, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and employment discrimination.  It will also handle law enforcement public corruption cases.

 Mr. Stanton has appointed veteran federal prosecutor Steve Parker to head the unit.  Brian Coleman, an experienced law enforcement corruption prosecutor, and Jonathan Skrmetti, until recently a criminal prosecutor with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, will join Parker in the Civil Rights Unit.

 Perez recognized the office for its proactive enforcement of federal civil rights laws and continuing its impressive record:

 “The Justice Department is committed to enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, and I am pleased that the Civil Rights Division has a strong partner here in Tennessee to help carry out this critical work.”

 Stanton said:

 “The Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee every American rights and freedoms that cannot be taken away from them. This new Civil Rights Unit will bring to bear the full constitutional authority of the United States to ensure that those rights are protected and defended.”

 The new Civil Rights Unit is part of a broader, nationwide effort to increase the Department’s capacity to enforce civil rights laws, reflecting the Department of Justice’s renewed commitment to aggressive civil rights enforcement.  This is one of about a dozen U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country to take steps in creating a Civil Rights Unit.



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