On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department was opening a probe into the Phoenix Police Department for suspected violations, including retaliatory activity against protesters who engage in “protected, expressive activities,” “excessive force,” and mistreament of “people with disabilities.” This is the Department of Justice’s third investigation into police units across the country for an alleged “pattern or practice” of civil rights violations.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department that is leading the prosecution of over 550 defendants over the Capitol Breach hasn’t said a word about the reported abuse of many individuals in pretrial detainment, whose maltreatment appears to describe the civil rights violations Attorney General Garland refers to in his announcement.
“Our investigation in Phoenix will be led by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division,” AG Garland said. “It is based on the division’s extensive review of publicly available information and it will consider several issues.”
“First, whether the Phoenix Police Department uses excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,” Garland continued.”Second, whether the Phoenix Police Department engages in discriminatory policing practices that violate the Constitution and federal law.”
“Third, whether the department violates the First Amendment, by retaliating against individuals who are engaged in protected, expressive activities,” he went on.
“Fourth, whether the city and its police department respond to people with disabilities in a manner that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act,” he continued. “This includes decisions about whether decisions to criminally detain individuals with behavioral health disabilities are proper.”
“And fifth, whether the Phoenix Police Department violates the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness by seizing and disposing of their belongings in a manner that violates the Constitution,” Garland added.
In March, reports began surfacing of the horrific jail conditions being experienced by many January 6 defendants in pre-trial detainment. Politico reported on March 11 that all the defendants were being held as “maximum security” prisoners and were also put into “restrictive housing,” which is a euphemism often used for solitary confinement.
The pretrial detainment conditions for the accused were reportedly no better in May and even drew the attention of top Democrats, who objected to the harsh conditions.
“Solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is cruel and psychologically damaging,” Warren told Politico in April. The Massachusetts Senator expressed her view that the Jan. 6 defendants were being singled out to “punish” or “break them so that they will cooperate” with federal prosecutors.
In April, CBS News reported on January 6 defendants who were allegedly beaten while awaiting trial. (It should be noted that approximately 70% of defendants were out on bond as of late May; this leaves about 30% of defendants in pretrial detainment at the time that many reports of abuse surfaced.)
“A Capitol riot defendant was ‘viciously and savagely’ beaten by a guard in a Washington, D.C. jail and may lose sight in one eye because of his injuries, one of his lawyers told the CBS affiliate in the city, WUSA-TV,” the news outlet reported. “Ryan Samsel is accused of pushing over barriers and knocking down a police officer – causing her to suffer a concussion – during the January 6 riot.”
The subject’s attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini said her client was ‘being held in lockdown for 23 hours a day’ and was ‘having a hard time getting access to hygiene supplies and the shower.’ According to the report, Pasqualini informed jail officials of the alleged assault, who told her they were conducting an internal investigation. The lawyer also reported it to the FBI, which subsequently refused to confirm or deny that it was investigating the matter.
The prisons where the January 6 defendants have been held for months attempted to explain the solitary confinement with references to COVID protocols. But Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said the 23-hour lockdowns were causing psychological harm to defendants in a letter he sent to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“This is something to be expected of authoritarian governments such as Russia— not the local government that serves as the center of the free world,” Comer argued. Mayor Bowser did not respond to the letter.
In July, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal over reports of abuse of January 6 prisoners.
“I am writing to inquire about reports in the media regarding the use of solitary confinement and personal rights violations against those detained following the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol,” Rep. Hartzler wrote. “While we can all agree that the breach of the Capitol is inexcusable and those responsible for breaking the law must be held accountable, reports of this excessive and harsh treatment is highly concerning. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) mission is to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice no matter the circumstance of the crime. This mission highlights the right of every American to be treated innocent until proven guilty.”
Attorney General Garland is yet to announce a ‘civil rights investigation’ into the atrocious jail conditions that January 6 defendants reportedly experienced. The litmus test for whether or not such an investigation qualifies appears to be the likely political persuasion of the victims. The Department of Justice has provided such optics with its uneven approach to violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa driven rioting across the nation, which resulted in the deaths of over 20 American citizens and did billions in damage to black-majority neighborhoods.
“Meanwhile, in Democrat-run Portland, where Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa rioters have torched the city for over a year and committed acts of violence in the form of firebombing explosives into federal courthouses, ripping down plywood, smashing windows, throwing rocks, and blinding federal law enforcement officers with lasers, 81 percent of those charged will not be serving any jail time,” the American Spectator reported.
As PJ Media adds, “Forty-seven of the 96 Portland rioters hit with federal charges relating to attacks on federal buildings have had their charges dropped, including charges of assaulting an officer. Ten people have taken plea deals and they have mostly been sentenced to community service.”
Furthermore, the DOJ has not charged any of the 557 defendants with treason, insurrection, or an attempt to overthrow the government, a legal fact that stands in stark relief with the exaggerated claims being made by the Democratic leadership.
It has, however, still managed to have overcharged scores of defendants for felonies that are now being pleaded down to petty misdemeanors. “So far, at least 30 defendants have pleaded guilty,” CBS News reported on Wednesday. “At least 24 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors only, while six have pleaded guilty to felonies.”
“What is obvious now in hindsight is that the Biden Justice Department prosecutors sought and obtained felony charges in many cases based on almost no meaningful review of actual evidence about what happened; it used fear and hysteria to justify doing so,” the Spectator notes. “Now they are being pressed to provide the evidence that is supposed to support the felony charges they brought, and are unable to do so in the timeframe required by law. So they are abandoning the cases on the best possible outcome available—the least serious of all federal crimes, ‘petty’ misdemeanors.”
“Now that the DOJ has gone down the path of exchanging guilty pleas to misdemeanors for some defendants charged with felonies, it will become more difficult to not do the same for a much larger number of defendants where the facts are substantially the same,” the Spectator added.
The Department of Justice appears to have politicized the charges against the Jan. 6 defendants for effect. On Wednesday, more evidence accumulated that this indeed was the case.
“U.S. prosecutors are offering plea deals to a group of six people accused of forming a ‘shield wall’ of stolen police equipment as they battled officers in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, a federal prosecutor said on Thursday,” Reuters reported. “At a status hearing for six defendants facing felony riot charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Jackson told U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden that prosecutors had already made plea offers to some of the defendants and that all defendants would receive offers by later on Thursday.”
The Spectator brought up a significant hurdle for the prosecution: The legal mandate that any evidence used to prosecute defendants must be turned over to the defense, which has the right to search for exculpatory evidence.
“This discovery issue is more complicated than it might first appear. The biggest problem faced by the government is what to do about the supposed 14,000 hours of videotape footage captured by both the open and hidden surveillance cameras that cover the entirety of the Capitol and its surrounding buildings and grounds,” the article points out. “That footage exists, it is in the possession of the prosecutors and/or FBI, and under federal criminal law, the government is deemed to have “knowledge” of everything captured on that footage, whether it has actually examined and cataloged the video or not.”
“If there is anything that might arguably be described as ‘exculpatory’ in that massive volume of video, the law applies the concept of ‘constructive knowledge’ of that evidence to the government in a criminal prosecution,” the article continues. “In a case called Kyles v. Whitley (1995), the Supreme Court held that prosecutors are deemed by law to have knowledge of all the facts about a case that are known to their investigators or contained in the case file, even if the prosecutors have no actual knowledge of some of the facts.”
This further underscores that the charging and detainment of January 6 defendants was, indeed, political. The Biden administration got the optics that it was an “insurrection” without actually charging anyone for “insurrection.” The Department of Justice brought forth felony charges, including for alleged assault and other violent crimes, without actually prosecuting those crimes in court.
The Department of Justice has served its purpose by providing the Biden administration with a political “narrative.” The court the Democratic Party is actually most concerned about is the court of public opinion, not one of actual “justice.”
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.