A week or so after being sworn in as the new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave some indication of the direction her tenure in office will be moving. On Tuesday, as part of her tour of Baltimore, she met with members of Freddie Gray’s family but neither she nor members of the family had statements for the press.
Her visit with members of Gray’s family comes a week after she denounced the “senseless violence” in Baltimore, in the wake of Gray’s death while in police custody. Six officers—three Black and three White—have been charged with several counts by Baltimore’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, but the Justice Department is continuing its own investigation of the incident that took the life of the 25-year-old African American.
If Lynch is serious about the current spate of police misconduct, then she will be perpetually on the road since there are more than twenty police departments under consent decrees to eliminate the egregious incidents of misconduct and brutality, or face lawsuits. The decrees were initiated by Eric Holder, Jr., Lynch’s predecessor as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
One of the things that delayed Lynch’s confirmation was the concern from some Republicans that she was but a female replica of Holder’s policies, and by extension, President Obama’s. But she was readily approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which may give some credence to those who feel she will be a boon for the nation’s conservative camp.
That certainly is the conclusion from journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is closely associated with whistleblower Edward Snowden. “She is essentially a fairly conservative, pro-security state, pro-penal state federal prosecutor who has spent her career supporting and upholding this evil system of mass incarceration,” Greenwald told Salon during a recent interview.
“To cheer her simply because of the historic nature of her appointment — which, of course, is significant, her being the first African-American woman to serve in that position — without regard to the things that she’s actually going to do in pursuit of these policies, I think is mind-numbingly irrational,” he added.
Greenwald had only a few kind words about Holder, noting that he was “pretty horrible in lots of important areas; but in other areas, he was actually quite good—like civil rights enforcement and advocating for more equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. I don’t expect Loretta Lynch to be [that way].”
It’s much too early in the game to determine exactly how Lynch will perform, and some would take exception to Greenwald’s characterization of her track record, particularly those who remember her prosecution of the police in the torture of Abner Louima and the investigation she led in the indictment of Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island, who was cited with 20 counts, including tax fraud, perjury, to obstruction of justice.
Grimm’s Republican colleagues, given his treatment, would not rush to embrace Lynch.