Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Atlanta to speak with members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, as the one year anniversary of the death of Jamarion Robinson leaves one Georgia family still seeking answers.
Sessions’ visit comes after his boss, Donald Trump, made remarks in support of treating someone roughly while they are being taken into custody. The press secretary repeatedly defended the comment as Trump merely “making a joke,” and derided concerns about the comment as “trying to make something out of nothing.” Sessions did not address the remark, which left some members of the Black law enforcement group (along with many others) feeling uneasy.
Sessions, under Trump, has been promoting a return to “tough on crime” policing as way to deal with issues many communities are struggling with, like the opioid epidemic. However, “tough on crime” approaches to public safety have been widely panned for increasing the number of people behind bars, while doing little to address the underlying issues that make communities unsafe.
Sessions has also been dismantling agreements between the Department of Justice and police departments that address problems with excessive use of force. The Obama administration spearheaded these agreements — which are enforceable in a court of law — as a way to address police departments the DOJ investigated and found had widespread problems with excessive use of force.
Clarence E. Cox III, former chief of Clayton County Schools in Georgia and incoming president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, spoke about the place Black law enforcement officers hold within their communities and among public safety officials.
“We live in some of the same communities that are affected by this disparate treatment. We go to church in those neighborhoods. We go to the barbershops. Certain things people don’t realize: It’s really hard being black and being a police officer when these things happen,” Cox said, according to The Atlanta Voice.
Meanwhile, the family of Clark Atlanta University student Jamarion Robinson marched with supporters in the hopes of getting answers about his death, one year after he was killed at an apartment in East Point, a city just south of Atlanta. Robinson was shot by U.S. Marshalls 76 times, however the officers involved in his death have not provided statements to investigators, hampering their ability to determine what actually happened that day.
Robinson’s mother, Monteria Robinson, was critical of the “joke” Trump made, telling Rolling Out magazine, “It perpetuates the culture of accepting police violence.”
Keep up with the Robinson family as they seek justice for Jamarion on the website they created in his memory, while the Southern Poverty Law Center provides information on some of Attorney General Sessions’ most concerning actions.