We’ve written before at Liberty Unyielding about the U.S. Justice Department’s Community Relations Service (CRS). It’s the small branch of the Civil Rights Division created in 1964 to “mediate” in communities with suspicious civil-rights problems.
It has been deployed in a number of high-profile cases during the Obama administration, including the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Outhouse Float Crisis, and of course the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson.
Seemingly less relevant to civil rights infractions, the CRS was also caught on video running transportation for Occupy protesters at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. (You can verify here that the Obama Justice Department had no ongoing investigations against a Tampa-area government or organization at the time. The Occupy protesters were there, in any case, to stake out the RNC, and the interaction documented by Breitbart clearly related to that purpose.)
There’s a tendency among some to dismiss the CRS as a BOGSAT facilitator: a little team that pretends to accomplish something by hosting a “bunch of guys sitting around talking.” To conclude that is to seriously underestimate the CRS, and, in particular, to miss the import of the way the Obama administration uses it. In its “mediation” role, the CRS is uniquely positioned to set the narrative about what’s going on in a so-called “civil rights” case. It can paint a picture that seems to demand actions, from cities and law enforcement agencies, which nothing in written law obligates them to. The CRS, in other words – apart from its obvious prowess at moving protesters to their sites, demonstrated in Sanford, FL, Tampa, FL, and Ferguson, MO – makes an excellent shakedown squad.
As Judicial Watch documented (see link in para 2), the CRS sent eight employees to Ferguson the day after Michael Brown’s shooting. It sent them in response to a request for help from the NAACP. The remarkable swiftness with which this was all done should clarify how closely linked the NAACP is with the Holder Justice Department.
And what did the CRS representatives do when they got to Ferguson? They held community meetings. They closed the meetings to “outsiders” – which meant that the media couldn’t attend them – and many bloggers saw that as a red flag. Until today, there has been little reporting on what the CRS agenda was in these meetings.
The Daily Caller had a piece in August in which Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the CRS reps were instructing Fergusonians in how to protest. That would fit with the CRS behavior pattern seen in Sanford and Tampa.
But the meetings continued throughout the fall, and now we know, thanks to the diligent spadework of NRO’s Ryan Lovelace, that there was more. Whatever bad, pessimistic things you were thinking were apparently correct. The CRS was there stirring up trouble. (Emphasis added.)
In fact, officials from one Justice Department office were conducting meetings with Ferguson residents to educate them on subjects such as “white privilege.”
The DOJ’s Community Relations Service arrived in Ferguson purportedly to lessen the tension between protesters and city officials. But sources who attended the DOJ’s private gatherings with Ferguson residents tell NRO that the Justice Department also sought to educate and question the community about the issues of white privilege and racism. …
As investigators combed through Ferguson, DOJ’s Community Relations Service began holding the town-hall meetings, which excluded press and everyone from out of town. Ferguson resident Audrey Watson, 47, attended one of the meetings. She says federal officials organized the attendees into small groups and asked questions such as “What stereotypes exist in our community?” “How does white privilege impact race relations in our community?” and “Is there a need for personal commitment to race relations?”
The arbitrary assumption about “white privilege” is appallingly divisive, but apparently the CRS just starts from that assumption as if it’s a given. It’s no surprise, of course, that a CRS reporting to Holder and Obama would do so. But we’re now witnessing the reality that an agency of the U.S. government is out there encouraging Americans to talk about “white privilege” as if it’s some kind of actionable “thing” – instead of talking about government’s obligation to recognize our equality as citizens.
Obama talking a good game from Washington, in a couple of formal media sessions, doesn’t mitigate the impact of this poisoning of the well out among the people. The CRS (as I’ve pointed out before) is well placed to function like the Communist agitators of a century ago: to show up at meetings and introduce a fully formed narrative about racism and resentment.
The CRS’s ability to get local officials obediently talking from its script is perfectly demonstrated by Mayor Knowles – young, white, and Republican – whom Lovelace quotes talking himself down a rat-hole trying to express something meaningful about “white privilege”:
“I mean, I think it was really just trying to get people to understand what that [white privilege] means, because the average white person wakes up and says, if you’re just a middle-class white person, you say, What privilege do I have?” Knowles says. “But until you really understand the systemic issues and maybe some of those not-visible things that exist in society, which affect African Americans or other persons of color, you may not really understand what that is.”
If you asked Knowles what should actually be done about his point here, he would have nothing concrete to say. That’s because there is nothing concrete to say. You can’t write laws or institute procedures to change people’s inherently subjective perceptions.
But if you’re a community agitator, you can fan those perceptions and keep them at the forefront of people’s minds. That’s the only realistic purpose of jawing incessantly about “white privilege,” a subjective and indefinable premise if ever there was one. Just one more data point about the true nature of the crew currently operating our federal government.