Attorney General Merrick Garland hasn’t been on the job for long, but there have already been signs that he plans to be assertive in ensuring fair and equal justice for all. For instance, he’s already struck down a Trump era DOJ policy that protected bad police officers. Now Garland is making a very public move.
Yesterday a jury convicted Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, meaning that justice was handed out in this one case. But even with that verdict, Merrick Garland announced today that his DOJ is launching a probe into the entire Minneapolis Police Department, to determine if Chauvin’s actions were part of a “pattern or practice” of illegal policing.
This is a big deal, for a couple reasons. First, it’s already clear that the Minneapolis PD is institutionally corrupt and routinely covers up its abuses, as evidenced by its initial press release falsely claiming that George Floyd died of a medical condition. So the DOJ is likely to find plenty of high level corruption to wipe out.
Second, this establishes a broader precedent. Whenever a police officer murders someone, that police department knows that the DOJ will be breathing down its neck if it fails to handle the matter justly or tries to cover it up. If the jury put all police on notice yesterday, Merrick Garland put all police departments on notice today.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report