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To trust the DOJ or not to trust the DOJ.

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

There is a large part of me that wants to believe, wants to trust that the DOJ (Department of Justice) will do the right thing in regard to former President Donald Trump and the other insurrection leaders. I am hopeful that Special Counsel Jack Smith and his crew will be able to go the distance and see these cases through to the end, that the juries will not be tainted, that the judge is not a Trump sycophant, a political stooge.

But, I am wary of putting capes on powerful white men and women who claim they will bring other powerful white men and women to heal in a system that was designed by powerful white men and women.

Even if I push aside the fact that the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been sitting on their hands not wanting to investigate the leaders of the failed coup for 2 years after they nearly seized the Capital building and that the FBI (Garland's investigators) did not even open a file on Trump's involvement for more than a year after January 6th, I still cannot bring myself to completely trust that they will not sabotage this somehow.

The US has simply not been willing to hold its leaders accountable. Ever.

I want to believe the former DOJ experts like Frank Figliuzzi (former Assistant Director of Counterintelligence FBI) who says the FBI is professional and has career employees who will do a fair and impartial investigation. I want to believe former US Attorneys like Joyce Allen Vance and Barbara McQuade when they say that the DOJ attorneys are professionals bound by the rule of law and will provide the people and the defendants with fair and just trials. I really want to believe them, and yet I still cannot.

I am not questioning the moral or ethics of the individuals involved. I am confident many DOJ employees come to work every day wanting to do the right thing, attempting to be just and impartial. My hesitation comes from the fact that these employees are working within a system that is inherently unjust and partial. My skepticism comes from my own lived experience and that of others'.

For nearly 30 years, the DOJ and the FBI have not done the right, the just and the impartial thing. Both agencies have accepted the evidence and investigations of the US Border Patrol (and after 2003, the CBP) in agent use of force cases, yet never has a single agent been held accountable. For over 35 years, the DOJ and FBI have known that the US Border Patrol used secret, illegal and unauthorized units known as Critical Incident Teams (BPCITs) to respond first to all deaths and other use of force incidents. The DOJ has known this entire time that these agents did not have legal authority to identify and collect evidence in these cases, and yet they have never said a word and used the investigations from these illegal coverup teams to deny prosecutions, to even testify in federal court cases as if they were somehow legally legitimate.

When I think about whether or not we can trust the DOJ to handle the January 6th cases, I cannot help but think about these BPCITs cases with indisputable evidence that prosecutors refused: Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, Sergio Adrian Hernandez-Guereca, or Ramses Barron-Torres. I think about all the cases involving other agencies like Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Bijan Ghaisar. I think about the time they unsuccessfully prosecuted Scott Warren twice for providing medical assistance to migrants, when they tried to prosecute activist Desiree Fairooz because she laughed at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and when they targeted Black Lives Matter protestors but not white nationalists protestors.

People on the left have experienced this form of injustice from the DOJ since its inception. Whether we are talking about police violence against people of color, white nationalist terrorism that the agency and law enforcement conveniently often ignores, migrants being killed for crossing a border without a piece of paper, women being targeted and denied their constitutional rights, violence aimed at our LGBTQ communities, the DOJ does not have a great track record.

How do I now say that their investigations and prosecutions of Trump and others are just? How do I say that I trust the DOJ who is now targeting activists against Atlanta's Cop City? Activists who I support? Against a system that I do not support?

The DOJ, like most US agencies, is based in a system that caters to wealthy white men and women. Until we admit that and try and change the system, I don't see how to trust the DOJ.


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