U.S. Attorney Easley Expands Civil Rights Initiative to Focus on Enforcement, Education and Community Outreach

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. – United States Attorney Michael Easley today formally announced the expansion of the office’s continued efforts to enforce federal civil rights laws across Eastern North Carolina. These efforts will include an emphasis on community engagement and law enforcement training.

“Our office is committed to ensuring that all people are treated equally and fairly under the law,” said Easley. “Our Civil Rights Team will make the investigation of potential civil and criminal civil rights violations a top priority and bring appropriate action when warranted. We want the communities we serve to be free from discrimination.”

As part of the Civil Rights Initiative, the U.S. Attorney has designated a Civil Rights Team including Civil Rights Coordinators in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions as well as a designated Human Trafficking Coordinator.  The Civil Division Coordinator coordinates enforcement actions related to the protection of voter rights; disability rights or access; and discrimination in housing, healthcare, lending, employment, and education. The Criminal Division Coordinator coordinates criminal enforcement actions such as the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes and color of law violations. The Human Trafficking Coordinator oversees the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes such as forced labor, sex trafficking of minors, and sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. The coordinators work closely with the Office’s Chief Counsel for Litigation, who takes on special litigative projects in the area of civil rights. In addition to these dedicated prosecutors, the office will continue working with state and local law enforcement agencies and community groups to raise awareness of key civil rights issues. The Team will coordinate closely with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies as needed.

As a part of its ongoing community outreach, the office has launched a new website with information about civil rights laws and details on how to submit civil rights complaints. In addition, the office is co-hosting a program on May 19 with the Apex Police Department, the Garden of Hope, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Apex to discuss the impact of human trafficking on the Asian Pacific Islander community. Beginning in June, the office is also co-hosting a series of monthly training sessions with the North Carolina Justice Academy to enhance law enforcement’s tools to avoid and manage community conflict, including training on de-escalation, use of force, community engagement, and civil rights laws. Other trainings and educational forums will be scheduled throughout the year.

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