DOJ Words Matter…Here’s What They Mean

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a pattern-or-practice investigation of the City of Lexington Mississippi and its police department. Here is the transcript from DOJ’s national press conference. I translated the remarks to remove the political rhetoric:

♻ “Police misconduct in smaller communities may not always garner national attention, but rest assured, the Justice Department is watching. No city, no town, no law enforcement agency is too large or too small to evade our enforcement of constitutional rights.”
✔ Translation: Big brother is watching.

♻”Based on an extensive review of information that is publicly available and that we received from stakeholders, we conclude there is significant justification to open this investigation.”
✔ Translation: Our political supporters told us that Lexington was bad.

♻”Community members have offered troubling accounts of how these alleged practices have affected their lives, of injuries caused by gratuitous and excessive force, of alleged sexual assault and of repression and reprisal.”
✔ Translation: People have made unsubstantiated allegations, but instead of investigating the officers involved, we are going to force the City to sign a consent decree.

♻”[Lexington] has a storied place in civil rights history. In the face of violent opposition, residents persisted in registering and exercising their right to vote, and in 1967, elected the first Black representative to the Mississippi Legislature in the 20th century, who later went on to become Speaker of the Mississippi House.”
✔ Translation: It is a presidential election year and we wanted to show that DOJ cares about civil rights.

♻”This is the beginning of the investigation, not the end. We have drawn no conclusions. We are committed to conducting an independent, comprehensive and fair investigation…We will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead.”
✔ Translation: We have prejudged the City and predetermined the outcome of our investigation.

♻”We will not tolerate retaliation against community residents who participate in our investigation.”
✔ Translation: If the City attempts to defend itself or refute our allegations, we will retaliate.

♻”We look forward to working together with city officials and the Lexington Police Department.”
✔ Translation: As long as the city cooperates, no one will get hurt.

♻”We want the community to know that we see you, we hear you and we will stand up for you.”
✔ Translation: We will ignore the community and refuse to answer any questions.

♻”Misconduct by law enforcement…undermines public trust and harms racial minorities and other vulnerable populations.”
✔ Translation: DOJ investigations undermine public trust. DOJ consent decrees harm vulnerable populations.