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Movement for Black Lives responds to confirmation of Jeff Sessions

Movement for Black Lives responds to confirmation of Jeff Sessions

Organizations united in opposition to sessions’ confirmation, citing racist past, voter suppression and heightened surveillance as indicator for what’s to come for Black people

By Chelsea Fuller

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Feb. 8, 2017 the United States Senate confirmed Sen. Jeff Sessions as the next U.S. Attorney General with a near-party line vote of 52-47. For decades, Sen. Sessions has used the power of his office to intimidate and marginalize Black voters. His record of being indifferent to criminal violations of civil rights laws and supporting racist and oppressive legislation make him unfit to serve as the head of the U.S. Department of Justice. At times in his career, Sessions has even questioned the necessity of the very laws he is now charged with enforcing: federal civil rights laws, protection from discrimination, hate crimes and more. In response to his confirmation, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of more than 30 organizations committed to the fight for equity and justice for Black people, released the following statement:

“The appointment of Jefferson Sessions is a terrifying affirmation of what many of us already knew, that the federal government, and the Department of Justice specifically, will be used as weapons against our communities under this administration. From the threat to defund the Civil Rights Division, to the appointment of an Attorney General whose racism has been called out by his colleagues, it is clear the federal government will do nothing to end the state-sanctioned killing of our people by police, the theft of our votes, the continued criminalization of our children or from the persecution of LGBTQ people,” said Marbre Stahly-Butts, director of partnerships with Law for Black Lives and member of the M4BL Policy Table. “The confirmation of Sessions is a shameful step away from the very principles his office was created to uphold and protect. Despite his confirmation, we are still committed to fighting for equitable treatment under the law for all people.”

“Now, at a time when the FBI has sweeping surveillance powers, we must buckle down and prepare for increased criminalization while trying to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially our Muslim and Immigrant communities being targeted by Trump’s administration. Our people are still living with the residuals of the FBI’s aggressive targeting and criminalization of activists and freedom movements of the 1960’s and 70s, with many victims of COINTELPRO and similar law enforcement initiatives still behind bars and living in exile,” said Ash-Lee Henderson, co-executive director of the Highlander Research & Education Center, and member of the M4BL Policy Table.

“Sessions will undoubtedly pursue the agenda of white supremacists and vigilantes of generations past and present, and will have the power and tools of the federal government at his disposal. However, we will continue doing what we’ve always done; we will resist, fight and build our communities with dignity and a vision for the future that includes thriving communities for our people, and freedom from systemic racism and oppression for all people.“

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