Acting United States Attorney Mark J. Lesko Announces Formation of Civil Rights Team in the Office’s Civil Division

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Mark J. Lesko, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today the creation of a Civil Rights Team in the Office’s Civil Division.  The Team, comprised of four Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys and the Civil Division Chief of Civil Rights, enhances the Office’s focus on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable residents of the Eastern District of New York, especially those in disadvantaged communities.  The Office has responsibility for the enforcement of our nation’s Civil Rights laws in the Eastern District of New York, which encompasses Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. There are approximately eight million residents in the Eastern District.

The Office is creating this team in recognition of President Joseph Biden’s directive in Executive Order 13985, which sets forth that “[a]ffirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.”  Among the areas that the Team will focus on are policing, patterns and practices of housing discrimination, and school segregation. 

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In announcing the formation of the Civil Rights Team, Acting United States Attorney Lesko stated, “Today, the Eastern District of New York, a jurisdiction created by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, celebrates the Juneteenth National Independence Day commemorating the abolition of slavery, which was signed into law yesterday by President Biden. This Office is firmly committed to identifying and rooting out discrimination in all of its forms, wherever it persists, and we have a long and storied history in the Eastern District of New York of enforcing federal laws that prohibit discrimination.  The creation of the Civil Rights Team will further strengthen the Office’s capacity to investigate and civilly prosecute civil rights violations in the City of New York and on Long Island, especially our ability to handle investigations of systemic discrimination.  The establishment of the Team demonstrates the commitment of this Office to vigorously enforce our federal civil rights laws to help foster a community where individuals can live safely, free from unlawful discrimination, and ensure equal rights for all, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”

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The Office’s Civil Rights Practice is led by Civil Division Chief of Civil Rights Michael J. Goldberger; the Civil Rights Team is made up of Assistant United States Attorneys Rachel G. Balaban, Megan Freismuth, Sean Greene-Delgado, Dara Olds, and Civil Rights Investigator Laura Riley.  The Civil Rights Team is overseen by Civil Division Acting Chief Joseph A. Marutollo and Civil Division Deputy Chief Richard K. Hayes.  The Team will continue to partner and coordinate with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and federal, state and local agencies that enforce civil rights laws.  The Office previously announced it had doubled the size of the Criminal Civil Rights Section under the leadership of Chief Elizabeth Geddes, who, among her other responsibilities, will act as liaison to the Civil Division’s newly formed Civil Rights Team.

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The Office has also created a new webpage, located at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/civil-rights, dedicated to Civil Rights Enforcement, which highlights the work of the Office and provides links to complaint forms and to other civil rights resources.  For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or to report to report suspected violations of civil rights please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny.  

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