Prepared Statement of Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division,
Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Civil Rights Division Oversight
Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Specter, and distinguished members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to appear before you.
I am pleased to report on some outstanding accomplishments in the Civil Rights Division since I last appeared before the Committee seven months ago. I am proud of the professional attorneys and staff in the Division whose talents, dedication and hard work made these accomplishments possible. My prepared written statement details the accomplishments of each Section of the Division, and I would ask that the entirety of my prepared statement be placed into the record.
First, I am pleased to report that, on June 14, 2007, a federal jury in southern Mississippi returned guilty verdicts against former KKK member James Seale for his involvement in the abduction and murders of two young African-American men. These crimes were committed 43 years ago in 1964. Seale and other Klansmen abducted Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charlie Eddie Moore, both 19 years old at the time, and drove the two young men into a secluded location, where the Klansmen beat the victims and interrogated them at gunpoint. Seale and the other Klansmen then bound the two men with duct tape. The Klansmen then drove the victims to Parker’s Landing in Warren County, Miss., on a route that took them through the state of Louisiana. Once at Parker’s Landing, the Klansmen secured Dee to an engine block and threw him into the Old Mississippi River, drowning him. The Klansmen next secured iron weights to Moore, and also threw him into the water. Several months after the kidnappings and murders, divers recovered from the river the badly decomposed remains of the two young men. I would like to express my thanks to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi for its diligent effort in working with the Civil Rights Division on this difficult case. Our collaborative efforts helped to finally bring justice to the victims and their families. While the federal government’s ability to bring Civil Rights Era murders is limited by the provisions of then-existing federal law, the Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting such cases. I would also like to commend the Committee for its consideration and support of S. 535, the “Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act,” which, if funded, will facilitate investigations of over 100 Civil Rights Era murders identified by the FBI.
Second, we continue to make great strides in our effort to combat human trafficking, increasing by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court in the last six fiscal years. On June 14, 2007, a federal jury in Hartford, Connecticut, found Dennis Paris guilty for his role in the operation of a sex-trafficking ring. The defendant purchased two American citizens, including a 14-year old girl, for $1,200 each, then forced them to engage in prostitution. This case illustrates all too clearly that human trafficking can occur any place, any time, and to any vulnerable victim, and reinforces the need for the Justice Department to remain vigilant in enforcing the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Finally, we are vigorously enforcing the requirements of Title VII that prohibit employment discrimination. Our efforts in this regard are highlighted by our recent pattern or practice cases against New York City and the City of Chesapeake, Virginia. Last month, in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office, we filed a lawsuit against the largest fire department in the United States, the Fire Department of New York. This suit alleges that the City of New York’s use of written exams when selecting entry-level firefighters has an unlawful disparate impact against blacks and Hispanics. We recently settled a similar lawsuit against Chesapeake, Virginia, regarding entry-level police officers. We are committed to bringing these types of difficult cases to guarantee the equal opportunity of all Americans to fill these important positions as firefighters and police officers.
I look forward to continuing to work closely and cooperatively with this Committee to ensure the vigorous and even-handed enforcement of the federal civil rights laws. Thank you for your attention. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to any questions that you may have.
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