Today, law enforcement officers in Florida are on riot-risk alert.
Last year, the nation's top law enforcement agency helped fan the flames that could spark such violence.
On Wednesday, Judicial Watch released documents “revealing that a little-known unit of the Department of Justice, the Community Relations Service, was deployed to Sanford, Fla., following the Trayvon Martin shooting to help organize and manage rallies and protests against George Zimmerman.”
And on Friday, Zimmerman's trial in the Feb. 26, 2012, death of 17-year-old Martin went to the jury.
But DOJ officials issued a hasty verdict of sorts long ago.
From the documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by Judicial Watch, which bills itself as a “conservative, nonpartisan watchdog”: CRS workers were sent to Sanford starting in late March 2012 “to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death” of Martin.
The little more than $5,000 of taxpayer money spent on that mission was chump change on the immense federal-spending scale.
However, sowing ethnic resentments takes a toll transcending monetary measure.
More from Judicial Watch:
The CRS arranged a “40-mile police escort” for protesters who “barricaded the entrance to the police department” demanding the ouster of Sanford Chief Bill Lee, who subsequently resigned.
Add this miscarriage of Justice's proper function to its already-heavy scandal load — including Fast and Furious gun-running to Mexican drug gangs and wide-ranging wiretapping of The Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen.
Add it, too, to the department's race-card plays under Attorney General Eric Holder.
Identify the problem
Last year, Holder called voter ID laws “poll taxes.”
That hit home here in South Carolina, where our voter ID law took effect, after a DOJ court challenge, this year.
OK, so some conservatives within and beyond S.C. borders back voter ID because it allegedly reduces black voting — though its effects in Georgia and elsewhere belie that notion.
And last week, AP reported that the State Law Enforcement Division found “no one intentionally cast a ballot in South Carolina using the names of dead people in recent elections, despite allegations to the contrary.”
That news triggered this just-as-he-suspected shot from distinguished colleague Brian Hicks in his Wednesday column: “South Carolina Republicans were crying wolf all along.”
Yet South Carolina Republicans aren't the only Americans who have advocated voter ID.
For instance: “The perception that identity theft could occur at the polls weakens the public's faith in the fairness of our elections. Voting should be at least as secure as everyday tasks like renting a car or getting a library card that routinely require ID.”
That was Rhode Island's Democratic Secretary of State, Ralph Mollis, after the voter ID bill he helped write was approved by his state's overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in 2011.
What color Hispanic?
Yes, our justice and election systems were long tainted by unfair treatment of minorities — especially in the South.
Lingering distrust from that ugly legacy is all the more reason for the U.S. attorney general to not sound Al Sharpton-like false alarms about supposedly resurgent white bigotry.
And shame on The New York Times for branding Zimmerman a “white Hispanic.”
Shame, too, though, on folks of any shade who hail Zimmerman as a hero. His failure to heed a police dispatcher's advice to not follow Martin was reckless — and tragic.
But that doesn't necessarily prove Zimmerman guilty of murder — or even the belatedly added optional charge of manslaughter.
Watching the trial's overheated TV coverage doesn't make viewers, including this one, fully informed jurors, either.
So let the six real jurors render their version of justice.
And let the Justice Department stick to enforcing the law instead of deepening racial divisions.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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