Civil Rights Groups Meet with Attorney General Sessions, Condemn Recent Rollbacks
WASHINGTON – Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on behalf of civil rights leaders from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Action Network, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and the National Urban League after meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on a wide range of issues affecting the civil and human rights of all Americans. This marked the first in-person meeting between these organizations and Attorney General Sessions.
“Today we met with Attorney General Sessions to present the agenda of the national civil rights community that includes the protection of voting rights, aggressive enforcement of hate crimes and the Violence Against Women Act, criminal justice reform and enforcement of police department consent decrees, and protections for LGBTQ people. We also expressed our profound disappointment and grave concern regarding recent Department of Justice actions, including the revised Muslim travel ban announced by the administration on Monday.
We are deeply troubled by the steps already taken by the Attorney General to abdicate his responsibility to enforce civil rights laws affecting access to voting, oversight of troubled police departments, and the protection of LGBTQ individuals. We encouraged the Attorney General to prioritize protection of marginalized people and robust enforcement of existing civil rights laws. We urged him to fully fund and support the Civil Rights Division.
We also called on the Department to continue the smart-on-crime initiatives focused on eliminating disparities in federal prosecutions of low-level drug offenses and to bring its full resources to bear in addressing increases in hate violence across the country. We urged the Department to fully enforce the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), by encouraging the Trump administration and Congress to fully fund VAWA and to fully staff the Office of Violence Against Women and Office of Victims of Crime. We also asked the Attorney General to counsel the president against mass deportations of undocumented individuals.
To our dismay, the Attorney General offered no commitment to ensure all of the nation’s civil rights laws are enforced and that people of color, women, language minorities, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, seniors, religious minorities, and LGBTQ communities will be protected from discrimination and violence.
The Attorney General must be above partisan politics and pursue justice on behalf of all Americans, especially the most marginalized in our society. We will continue to oppose any efforts to erode civil rights or backtrack on important progress that has been made. Too much is at stake for us to remain silent.”
The civil rights leaders in the meeting included:
Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Kristen Clarke, president & executive director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president, National Action Network
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women's Roundtable
Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League
Video of the leaders speaking to the press after their meeting with the Attorney General is available here.