Feds Create New Jersey Civil Rights Division, Nation’s First

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

NEWARK, NJ – The Department of Justice is creating a criminal civil rights division in New Jersey, the first in the nation to ensure civil rights violations are prosecuted and handled properly. The feds have doubled the number of civil and criminal attorneys to fulfill that mission.

In a release today, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today the creation of a Civil Rights Division whose sole focus will be the enforcement of federal civil rights laws in New Jersey. The new division, which will report directly to the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s front office, will enforce both civil and criminal civil rights laws. The division will also engage with local community members, advocacy groups, and other federal and state agencies to protect civil rights. This is the first and largest division in the district’s history to focus entirely on enforcing and protecting civil rights.

“No one should ever be subject to acts of discrimination or hate because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship,” said U.S. Attorney Sellinger. “Hate crimes and unlawful bias incidents are antithetical to the core principles underlying our democracy, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will do all it can to combat these threats to constitutional and civil rights. The Department of Justice was founded to protect the civil rights guaranteed by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Building on this legacy, I am creating a Civil Rights Division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which will focus all its efforts on protecting and upholding the civil rights of those in our community. To that end, I have nearly doubled the number of civil and criminal attorneys who will carry out this important mission – all of whom will work together in this newly created division.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Division will be led by Division Chief Michael E. Campion. It will combine the Office’s longstanding Civil Rights Unit, which conducted civil enforcement as part of the Office’s Civil Division, with seasoned federal prosecutors from the Office’s Criminal Division, who will focus on federal criminal civil rights prosecutions. By increasing the number of attorneys dedicated to civil rights enforcement and merging civil and criminal civil rights enforcement into one Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be able to prioritize and coordinate protecting and advancing civil rights for all in New Jersey.

“The Civil Rights Division will continue the Office’s past efforts – often in partnership with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division – in bringing criminal civil rights prosecutions, as well as its efforts in bringing civil enforcement actions involving discrimination, fair housing, fair lending, the rights of institutionalized persons, police misconduct, voting rights, and the rights of veterans and servicemembers,” Sellinger said in a statement.