Rep. Davis Joins Letter to Attorney General Barr on Assault on Rule of Law

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June 5, 2020
Statements

The letter is below and HERE:

 

June 4, 2020

 

 

The Honorable William P. Barr Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20530

 

 

Dear Attorney General Barr:

 

We and the entire nation are in a state of heightened awareness in the wake of the thoroughly unconstitutional military assault you ordered on peaceful civil rights protesters exercisingtheirFirstAmendmentrightsinatraditionalpublicforuminordertomakewayforthe President’s blasphemous photo opportunity at St. John's Episcopal Church on Mondaynight.

 

But now we write about a related and continuing remarkable assault on the rule of law: your deployment of Department of Justice (DOJ) law enforcement officers, including personnel from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), to act against protesters in Washington, D.C. without carrying identifying name plates, official insignia, or agency markings of any kind on their “uniforms.” Washington, D.C. is the constitutional Seat of Government where all citizens have the right to travel, speak, assemble, and petition for a redress of grievances. These generic “law enforcement personnel” you have sent forth into public spaces to police and harass the citizenry have been refusingtoidentifythemselvesortheiremployingagenciestomembersofthepublicandthepress. Several have stated that they were not permitted to identify themselves. These officers have been part of a law enforcement operation making arrests, subduing civil rights protesters, firing rubber bullets in the chests of our constituents, and intimidating the public. Who are they and who do they workfor?

 

The United States is a constitutional democracy and all of us who are elected to public office are nothing but the servants of the people. Those appointed to public office, like you and thelawenforcementofficialsunderyourcommand,arenothingbuttheservantsoftheservantsof thepeople.

 

The public must know in all cases whether individuals purporting to enforce the law by detainingcitizensorusingforceagainstthemareactuallyauthorizedtodoso—andbywhom.This iscriticaltopoliceaccountabilitytothepeople.Howcanourconstituentscomplainaboutabusive conduct on the part of your officers if they cannot even identify them or which agency they work for?Anonymityforarmedfederalagentsthusconfersonthemacloakofimmunity,impunityand omnipotence. There will be no repercussions for trampling the civil rights and liberties of the people.

 

Identifying law enforcement personnel is also critical to prevent vigilante and impostor groups from masquerading as law enforcement officers and committing random acts of violence and abusing the rights of the people.1 How do you propose to explain to American citizens the difference between your unidentified but heavily armed law enforcement officers and self- appointed militiamen and camouflage-sporting white supremacists carrying military-style assault weapons?

 

The failure of law enforcement personnel to provide identifying information on a uniform is “a direct contradiction to the oversight that [DOJ has] been providing for many years to local police”accordingtoformerNewYorkCityPoliceCommissionerWilliamBratton.2Anonymizing law enforcement officials is a step taken by authoritarians like Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet who provide amnesty to loyalists so that their free-wheeling abuse of  civilians  is  never  known.3 This obscuring of lines of public authority is antithetical to our Constitution and should never be undertaken by the Attorney General of the UnitedStates.

 

Over the last week, you defied the Constitutional rights  of  the people. It appears now that under your directive and leadership, the DOJ has formed an army of unidentifiableand unaccountable law enforcement personnel to dominate Washington, D.C. This is an invitation to further chaos, confusion, discord andviolence.

 

We demand that you immediately order the restoration of identifying information to the uniformsofallDOJpersonneldeployedwithinthecityofWashington,D.C.Wealsodemandthat you provide responses to the following inquiries by Monday, June 8,2020:

 

  1. Identifytheindividual(s)whoorderedthat DOJlawenforcementpersonnelbedeployedto Washington, D.C., without any identifying name plates, insignia, or markers denoting agency affiliation on theiruniforms.

 

  1. IdentifytheauthorityandbasisforallowingDOJlawenforcementpersonneltoremoveall identifying nameplates, insignia, or markers denoting agency affiliation on theiruniforms.

 

  1. Identify the individual who ordered the unidentifiable DOJ law enforcement officers to refusetoanswerinquiriesastotheiragencyaffiliationsandtheauthorityunderwhichsuch order wasgiven.

 

  1. Identifytheagencies,fieldoffices,units,andanyotheridentifyinginformationfromwhich DOJ law enforcement have been drawn and deployed to Washington,D.C.

 

  1. Detail whether the Department has developed contingency plans to  deal  with right-  wing agitators, domestic terrorist organizations, and paramilitary groups that may attempt to disguise themselves with paramilitary tactical gear similar to that worn by DOJ law enforcement personnel to infiltrate the District of Columbia or other locations to cause disruptionandbodilyharmtoprotestersandgovernmentalpersonnel.DoestheDepartment have a means to recognize non-law enforcement officers who are dressed in similar paramilitary tactical gear to prevent their incursion into securedareas?

 

Any refusal or hesitation on your part to order DOJ personnel to immediately affix both personally identifying and institutionally identifying nameplates, insignia, and other markers on their uniforms will only further demonstrate your unfitness to lead the Department of Justice. We therefore look forward to your prompt and positive response.

 

1 Associated Press, Officials See Extremist Groups, Disinformation in Protests, THE NEW YORK TIMES, June 3, 2020 (reporting the presence of “Boogaloo” movement members carrying long guns and wearing tactical paramilitary gear at George Floyd protests), https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/05/31/us/politics/ap-us-america-protests-behind-the-protests.html.

2 Philip Bump, A Dangerous new factor in an uneasy moment: Unidentified law enforcement officers, THE WASHINGTON POST, June 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/03/dangerous-new-factor-an-uneasy-moment-unidentified-law-enforcement-officers/

3 Id. (“Many authoritarian leaders issue amnesty that free service people, clean up their records so that their abuses are never known.” – Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history at New York University.)

 

Very truly yours, 

 

 

JamieRaskin                           Donald S.Beyer,Jr.                Eleanor Holmes Norton 

Member of Congress                             Member of Congress               Member of Congress

 

 

 

s/ Donald M.Payne, Jr.                                               s/ JoaquinCastro                    

Memberof Congress                                                   Member ofCongress

 

 

s/ FredericaS.Wilson                                                 s/ TomMalinowski                

Memberof Congress                                                   Member ofCongress

 

 

s/John Lewis                                                              s/ Carolyn B. Maloney           

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s/ GraceF.Napolitano                                                s/ SuzanneBonamici              

Memberof Congress                                                   Member ofCongress

 

 

s/Jim Cooper                                                              s/ JaredHuffman                   

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s/ Bobby L. Rush                                                        s/ JimmyPanetta                    

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s/AlexandriaOcasio-Cortez                                       s/ SuzanDelBene                   

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s/ GeraldE. Connolly                                                 s/ Marcia L.Fudge                

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s/ FrankPallone,Jr.                                                    s/ Wm. LacyClay                  

Memberof Congress                                                   Member ofCongress

 

 

s/ AnthonyG. Brown                                                  s/ MadeleineDean                 

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s/JoyceBeatty                                                            s/ KatherineClark                  

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s/DianaDeGette                                                        s/ Bill Pascrell,Jr.                  

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s/SteveCohen                                                            s/ Jesús G. “Chuy”Garcia     

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s/ DonnaE. Shalala                                                     s/ Ted W.Lieu                       

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s/MarkPocan                                                             s/MikeQuigley                     

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s/Rashida Tlaib                                                           s/JanSchakowsky                 

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s/Chellie Pingree                                                        s/AlanLowenthal                 

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s/ DavidN. Cicilline                                                    s/ NormaJ.Torres                  

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s/ JamesP.McGovern                                                s/ RoKhanna                         

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s/ MaryGayScanlon                                                  s/ Bill Foster                          

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s/ BrendanF.Boyle                                                    s/DarrenSoto                        

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s/ RaúlM. Grijalva                                                      s/JackieSpeier                      

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s/Jason Crow                                                              s/FilemonVela                      

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s/RubenGallego                                                         s/PramilaJayapal                  

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s/ KathleenM. Rice                                                    s/ Henry C. “Hank” Johnson,Jr.

Memberof Congress                                                   Member ofCongress

 

 

s/ZoeLofgren