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Sen. Ossoff Calls on DOJ Nominee to Help End The Killings of Unarmed Black Men, Invoking Daunte Wright’s Shooting

Sen. Ossoff: “When the killing of citizens is extrajudicial, in my view, that is an egregious form of violence and an act of tyranny.”

Washington, D.C. — Today in the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing of Kristen Clarke to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff asked Clarke to use her authorities to end extrajudicial killings of American citizens by law enforcement, invoking the shooting of Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man shot and killed by police last weekend in Minnesota.

Sen. Ossoff expressed his view that when the killing of citizens is extrajudicial, that is an egregious form of violence and tyranny, and he asked Clarke how she can use her role in the Department of Justice, if confirmed, to stop this disturbing trend of unarmed young Black men being shot by police.

Clarke noted the DOJ’s authority by Congress to investigate unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement, also pointing to their ability to open pattern and practice investigations into police departments, jails, or other institutions that may be engaged in unconstitutional conduct.

Click here to watch Sen. Ossoff’s remarks and line of questioning.

Please find a transcript of the exchange below:

SEN. OSSOFF: “I’d like to ask you a couple of questions regarding your responsibilities, should you be confirmed to lead the Civil Rights Division. I don’t believe that the state should be in the business of killing its own citizens. That’s why I am an opponent of the death penalty. And when the killing of citizens is extrajudicial, in my view, that is an egregious form of violence and an act of tyranny. This week, yet again, the nation is grappling with the reality that in particular, unarmed Black men are subjected to violence at the hands of the state. Another young black man shot to death by a law enforcement officer. How will you use the power of this office to end extrajudicial killings of American citizens by law enforcement?”

CLARKE: “Thank you, Senator. The Civil Rights Division has been empowered by Congress to investigate unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement. And we know that this is a real and ongoing challenge that we face. The division has the ability to open pattern and practice investigations into police departments, jails, or other institutions that may be engaged in unconstitutional conduct. There’s 18 USC 242, which is one tool that can be used to promote accountability of law enforcement officers who use force without basis and in an unconstitutional way. But Attorney General Garland has talked about the other tools in the divisions arsenal, and I agree that in addition, we have to think about training and technical assistance and grant making as other tools to help promote improvements in this incredibly important area.”

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