As President Trump’s condoning of white supremacist violence in Charlotteville continues to provoke widespread public outrage, Trump’s administration wages a quieter war against Black and brown communities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is redoubling drug war policies that have long been proven to deepen racial inequality while doing nothing to decrease what he calls "staggering" violence in America's cities.
Racist policies are no big surprise coming from Sessions, but that doesn’t make the situation less alarming. A man with a long legacy of racist comments and law enforcement stances is now directing our nation’s justice department. We have an Attorney General who previously made the “joke” that, “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” Sessions’ disgusting, racist joke also highlights what seems to be an obsessive focus on marijuana, despite the lack of evidence linking its recreational use or legalization to violence.
In June, Sessions held a closed-door convening of law enforcement officials in the newly created Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to discuss the future of policing and criminal justice in the US. The task force passed along their recommendations to Sessions on July 27, but he has not released them to the American public. Although they will be shaping the direction of the American legal system for years to come, the membership of the task force is also secret. Sessions stated he will implement their recommendations on a "rolling basis"—apparently with no opportunity for scrutiny from elected officials or the public.