DOJ officials meet with civil rights leaders ahead of March on Washington
March organizers say it is aimed at re-energizing the social justice movement.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland hosted a meeting with civil rights organizations Friday at the Justice Department ahead of Saturday's March on Washington in honor of the historic march that preceded it 60 years ago, according to a source familiar with the event.
“When I became attorney general, I laid out three co-equal priorities for this Justice Department: to uphold the rule of law, to keep our country safe, and to protect civil rights,” Garland told the civil rights leaders in the meeting.
A source familiar with the event said that civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and activist and lawyer Maya Wiley were among those in attendance.
Garland was joined by other top officials at the DOJ, including Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division.
In August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., along with a crowd of roughly 250,000 people, gathered near the Lincoln Memorial and walked in the March on Washington in one of the most notable events of the Civil Rights Movement.
On Saturday, a multicultural coalition of more than 100 groups will gather in Washington, D.C., once again to honor the march's 60th anniversary amid ongoing culture wars.
Community leaders plan to address a plethora of issues during the march, from reproductive rights to voting rights, from immigration to anti-LGBTQ violence.
In his meeting with leaders, Garland highlighted the Justice Department's civil rights work, such as the investigation of the Memphis Police Department and the City of Memphis following the beating death of Tyre Nichols while in police custody.
Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis said the MPD will "continue to fully cooperate and work closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as its members conduct this next phase of their investigation."
Garland also highlighted the department’s efforts against discriminatory redlining practices in the housing market through its Combatting Redlining Initiative, in which the department secured the largest redlining settlement in its history earlier this year.
“I have also made clear that protecting civil rights is not only the responsibility of one storied division in our department -- it is the responsibility of every Justice Department employee, every single day," Garland said. "It is central to the mission of every component, every team, every agent, and every prosecutor in this department.”