Since its earliest days, the FBI has been tasked with protecting the Civil Rights of American citizens and people visiting United States. Concerned about slave labor, a dozen of the FBI’s first 34 Special Agents were experts in “peonage.” And as early as 1918, the FBI began battling the Klu Klux Klan [KKK] whose members terrorized the black community and for many years investigated color of law cases involving police brutality.
Today, Civil Rights investigations are considered one of the Bureau’s top priorities since the FBI has primary jurisdiction for violations involving the federal Civil Rights statutes. These laws are designed to protect the Civil Rights of all persons—citizens and non-citizens alike.
Using its full suite of investigative and intelligence capabilities, the FBI works closely with its law enforcement partners to prevent and address hate crimes, stop human trafficking, investigate color of law crimes, and prosecute Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act violations—the four priorities of the Civil Rights program.
As mentioned, Federal Civil Rights violations fall into several categories: 1.] hate crimes motivated by race, religion, national origin, and/or sexual orientation; 2.] color of law crimes involving law enforcement’s use of excessive force or police misconduct; 3.] involuntary servitude or slavery; 4.] violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act; and 5.] violations involving human trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Rights Act.
The most common violation complaints involve law enforcement’s use of excessive force concerning individuals being arrested and/or in police custody causing injury or death. Another common complaint involves individuals threatening and/or committing an act of racial violence and/or destroying personal and/or public property because of someone’s racial ethnicity.
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