U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger has announced the creation of a Civil Rights Division whose sole focus will be the enforcement of federal civil rights laws in New Jersey.
The new division, which will report directly to the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s front office, will enforce civil and criminal civil rights laws, according to a press release issued by Sellinger’s office on March 28.
The division will also engage with local community members, advocacy groups and other federal and state agencies to protect civil rights. This is the first and largest division in the district’s history to focus entirely on enforcing and protecting civil rights, according to the press release.
“No one should ever be subject to acts of discrimination or hate because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship,” Sellinger said. “Hate crimes and unlawful bias incidents are antithetical to the core principles underlying our democracy and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will do all it can to combat these threats to constitutional and civil rights.
“The Department of Justice was founded to protect the civil rights guaranteed by the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Building on this legacy, I am creating a Civil Rights Division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office which will focus all its efforts on protecting and upholding the civil rights of those in our community.
“To that end, I have nearly doubled the number of civil and criminal attorneys who will carry out this important mission; all of whom will work together in this newly created division,” Sellinger said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division will be led by Division Chief Michael E. Campion. It will combine the office’s longstanding Civil Rights Unit, which conducted civil enforcement as part of the office’s Civil Division, with seasoned federal prosecutors from the office’s Criminal Division, who will focus on federal criminal civil rights prosecutions, according to the press release.
By increasing the number of attorneys dedicated to civil rights enforcement and merging civil and criminal civil rights enforcement into one Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be able to prioritize and coordinate protecting and advancing civil rights for all in New Jersey, according to the press release.
The Civil Rights Division will continue the office’s past efforts – often in partnership with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division – in bringing criminal civil rights prosecutions, as well as its efforts in bringing civil enforcement actions involving discrimination, fair housing, fair lending, the rights of institutionalized persons, police misconduct, voting rights and the rights of veterans and service members, according to the press release.
Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations through https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement or they may call the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Hotline at 855-281-3339.