Politics & Policy

Obama’s Alinskyite Administration

The Justice Department’s involvement in the Zimmerman case is highly suspect.

Judicial Watch, a conservative legal foundation, has used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover documents that show Eric Holder’s Justice Department used a “community relations” unit to support and stage-manage public protests in Florida against George Zimmerman after his controversial February 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Justice’s Community Relations Service (CRS) even helped organize a meeting between Sanford, Fla., public officials and the local NAACP. The result was the resignation of police chief Bill Lee over his handling of the Martin case. While his resignation was rescinded after a few weeks by local officials, Chief Lee faced further pressure to leave his job and ultimately quit for good two months later. Valerie Houston, one of the pastors leading the protests against Zimmerman and Lee, praised the Community Relations Service as being “there for us.”

The website for the CRS claims it “does not take sides among disputing parties” and only provides “impartial conciliation and mediation services.” But the evidence of its activities in Sanford shows that it placed a large thumb on the scales of justice in the Zimmerman case. What can providing support for a “March for Trayvon Martin” rally headlined by the rabble-rousing Reverend Al Sharpton have to do with “conciliation and mediation”?

#ad#From top to bottom, the handling of the Zimmerman case was marinated in racial political correctness. Lee, the former Sanford police chief, told CNN this week that he faced severe pressure from outside forces to conduct his investigation in an unprofessional way so as to placate the public. “It was [relayed] to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”  Lee told CNN that arresting Zimmerman based on the evidence he had collected would have violated Zimmerman’s Fourth Amendment rights. But he said political influence “forced a change in the course of the normal criminal-justice process. . . . That investigation was taken away from us. We weren’t able to complete it.”

It looks as if the trial of George Zimmerman on second-degree-murder charges will go to the jury today, but regardless of the verdict, the Justice Department has some questions to answer about its role in the pressure campaign leading up to his indictment. “My guess is that most Americans would rightly object to taxpayers paying government employees to help organize racially charged demonstrations,” says Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, in a statement on the group’s website.

Sadly, I am not surprised that Eric Holder’s Justice Department engaged in suspect activity in the Trayvon Martin case. Barack Obama frequently touted his experience as a “community organizer” during his 2008 campaign. The media gave him almost a complete pass on the more controversial parts of his record, especially his role as a top trainer and lawyer for the infamous Saul Alinsky–inspired group ACORN, which by 2008 had had many of its employees convicted of voter fraud. After Obama’s election, the Justice Department dropped any pending investigations of ACORN. Congress finally revoked the group’s federal funding in 2010 after filmmaker James O’Keefe’s hidden cameras caught its employees giving advice on how to conceal money gained from a fictional teenage prostitution ring. It soon declared bankruptcy, and some of its affiliates continued operations under new mismanagement.

I wondered back in 2008 how the federal government’s focus would change with a left-wing “community organizer” installed as president. We now have a partial answer. It appears that some of the tactics and approaches ACORN used have been moved into the Justice Department and other federal agencies. In the old days, when individual appropriations bills for federal agencies were still passed by Congress, it was possible to defund groups like ACORN. But now, with congressional gridlock ensuring that federal agencies are financed by dubious annual spending resolutions that simply continue existing program funding, any effective oversight by Congress is a dead letter. The question now isn’t really how many other left-wing “community organizing” projects like the one at Justice are being subsidized by the Obama administration. The real issue is whether the entire Obama administration has basically become an enabler and cheerleader for every Saul Alinsky tactic its radical appointees want to embrace — from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s bullying local officials over public-housing construction demands to the Environmental Protection Agency’s colluding with environmentalist groups to lose lawsuits the groups file against the EPA in court.

— John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.

Most Popular

Culture

Yes We Kanye

Kanye West is unpredictable and not terribly coherent and has generated his share of infamous and insufferably narcissistic behavior -- “Bush doesn’t care about black people” and “Imma let you finish” come to mind. Color me skeptical that it’s a consequential victory for the Right now that West is ... Read More

Poll Finds Nevada Voters Support School-Choice Programs

According to an April poll, a large number of Nevada voters support school-choice programs. The poll, conducted by Nevada Independent/Mellman, found that 70 percent of voters support a proposal for a special-needs Education Savings Account and 59 percent support expanding the funding for the current tax-credit ... Read More
Education

Is Journalism School Worth It?

Clarence Darrow dropped out of law school after just a year, figuring that he would learn what he needed to know about legal practice faster if he were actually doing it than sitting in classrooms. (Today, that wouldn't be possible, thanks to licensing requirements.) The same thing is true in other fields -- ... Read More
Culture

Wednesday Links

Today is ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli: Here's some history, a documentary, and a Lego re-enactment. How DNA Can Lead to Wrongful Convictions: Labs today can identify people with DNA from just a handful of cells, but a handful of cells can easily migrate. The 19th-century art of ... Read More
World

Microscopic Dots. Let’s Look at Them.

Stuart E. Eizenstat has written a big book on the Carter presidency. (Eizenstat was Carter’s chief domestic-policy adviser. He also had a substantial hand in foreign affairs.) I have reviewed the book for the forthcoming NR. Eizenstat tells the story of a meeting between President Carter and Andrei Gromyko, the ... Read More