News and Press Releases

New jersey u.S . Attorney announces renewed focus on civil rights



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2011


 

NEWARK, N.J. – At today’s press conference announcing the Department of Justice’s pattern or practice investigation of the Newark Police Department, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman outlined his Office’s reinvigorated focus on protecting and defending the civil rights of the people of New Jersey.

The investigation – announced along with Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice; Newark Mayor Cory Booker; and outgoing and incoming Newark Police Department Directors Garry McCarthy and Sam DeMaio – is an example of the Office’s renewed commitment to using the Department’s resources and expertise to address civil rights issues. U.S. Attorney Fishman also highlighted other civil rights matters being addressed by the Office and ways the Office has made it easier for those with civil rights complaints to have their voices heard.

During Assistant Attorney General Perez’s visit to the state, he and U.S. Attorney Fishman are, among other things, speaking with high school students in Montclair about bullying and other civil rights concerns; addressing policing issues with commanding officers and supervisors of the Newark Police Department, representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police, and community groups and civil rights organizations; meeting with leaders of the state’s Arab American and Muslim communities; and hosting, together with Rutgers Law School, a roundtable discussion on civil rights issues.

To more effectively implement the Office’s responsibility to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws, the U.S. Attorney has designated Civil Rights Specialists in the Office’s Criminal, Civil, and Special Prosecutions Divisions. These designated specialists will enhance and streamline the Office’s work in this important area.

Recent examples of that work include a joint prosecution between the Civil Rights Division and the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office, in which Vincent Johnson of Brick, N.J., who went by the Internet pseudonym “Devilfish,” was sentenced in April to 50 months in prison and three years of supervised release for sending a series of threatening email communications to employees of five civil rights organizations that work to improve opportunities for, and challenge discrimination against, Latinos in the United States.

In March, the U.S. Attorney’s Office commenced a review of a number of hotels and casinos in Atlantic City to determine whether they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. To date, the Office has received responses from most of the hotels involved and is working cooperatively with those hotels to conduct the review and to address any issues identified, as well as to ensure compliance from those hotels which have not yet responded.

U.S. Attorney Fishman stated: “It is intolerable that people should be persecuted for who they are and what they believe. The Department of Justice is dedicated to civil rights because justice isn’t just unless it is for everyone. The people of New Jersey can be sure that we take our role seriously – both as representatives of the United States of America and champions of the rights of its citizens.”

Anyone who may have suffered a violation of his or her civil rights can reach the U.S. Attorney’s Office through the toll free civil rights hotline at 855-281-3339, or can make a complaint using the civil rights complaint form available on the Office’s website at: http://www.justice.gov/usao/nj/files/CivilRightsComplaint.pdf.


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