Justice Department Must Investigate Murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd

Contact: Rafael Medina, [email protected], 202.869.0390

WASHINGTON – Citing our nation’s longstanding need to address state-sponsored violence targeting Black people, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights joined over 200 organizations on this National Day of Mourning in demanding full transparency from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the findings from its criminal investigation into George Floyd’s death. In a second letter, more than 200 organizations also urged DOJ to pursue a federal civil rights investigation into the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Both the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and Louisville Metropolitan Police Department (LMPD) have long histories of excessive force against Black and Brown people. The groups called on DOJ to open “pattern or practice” investigations into both departments and to fulfill its obligations to investigate systemic unconstitutional policing abuses.

While we believe DOJ’s pledge to work “diligently and collaboratively” on a federal civil rights investigation of the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death is a first step, it alone is insufficient to meet our current moment. As the Minnesota Department of Human Rights conducts its investigation to uncover potential violations of state civil rights laws by MPD, DOJ, we urge DOJ to pursue a pattern or practice investigation of MPD for persistent federal civil rights violations.  We also urge DOJ to strengthen its role in addressing systemic issues of police misconduct across the country, and to step in if the resolution of the state criminal matter does not sufficiently vindicate the interests of justice. As our nation continues to reel at the string of recent tragedies that have once again highlighted the racial disparities in American policing, it is critical that DOJ use all of the statutes over which it has jurisdiction to take a leading role in demanding accountability from its state and local law enforcement partners,” the groups said in their letter on George Floyd.

“As Attorney General, you swore an oath to ‘support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ You have given us ample reason to doubt your willingness to fulfill that oath, most recently in your decision to order federal police and security officials to use tear gas on peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights outside of the White House. However, in calling on you to enforce our nation’s federal civil rights statutes at such a critical moment, we join the rest of the country and the world in urging you to uphold your solemn obligation to do justice in Ms. Taylor’s case, as well as in all other cases seeking to support, protect, and defend the Constitution,” the groups said in their letter demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.

The letter on George Floyd, including signatories, is available here.

The letter on Breonna Taylor, including signatories, is available here.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.