Performing U.S. Lawyer Raj Parekh Publicizes Enhanced Dedication to Civil Rights Enforcement in EDVA | USAO-EDVA
ALEXANDRIA, Va .– Raj Parekh, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), today announced the formation of a civil rights team in the Office’s Criminal Division that will be responsible for enforcing the nation’s federal criminal civil rights laws, including the EDVA additional resources to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, incidents related to prejudice and suspected wrongdoing by law enforcement agencies, and to improve the reach and awareness of affected communities. The development of the civil rights team in the criminal department of the EDVA builds on the previous establishment of the department for the enforcement of civil rights in the civil department of the EDVA, which, among other things, has undertaken pioneering efforts to protect the civil rights of military personnel and people with disabilities.
“Everyone has the right to enjoy life free from violence or discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or any other protected basis,” said the acting US attorney Parekh. “Far too often, victims of hate crimes and discrimination suffer in silence. By creating and expanding civil rights teams in our criminal and civil departments, we aim to raise awareness, improve reporting of hate crimes and discrimination, improve enforcement of civil rights protection, and ensure the prosecution of those who violate the civil rights of others. ”
These initiatives implement the guidelines of President Biden and Attorney General Garland to combat violence, hatred and discrimination through modern, comprehensive methods that address the complexities of these issues. In a May 2021 memorandum, Attorney General Garland directed US prosecutors across the country to strengthen the Department’s effectiveness in this area, stating that these measures “will reinforce our current efforts to combat unlawful acts of hatred by reporting Improve incidents, improve law enforcement training, and “coordinate at all levels of government, prioritize public relations, and make better use of civil enforcement mechanisms.”
Civil rights enforcement efforts in EDVA’s criminal and civil departments are focused on achieving these goals through close coordination with our partners at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as through sustained collaboration with affected communities in the eastern borough of Virginia.
EDVA’s Criminal Civil Rights team will focus on violations of state civil rights law, including hate crimes and incidents related to prejudice, suspected law enforcement misconduct, and other state civil rights offenses. US Assistant Attorney General (AUSA) Nicholas U. Murphy II will continue to serve as the district’s civil rights and hate crime coordinator for the EDVA’s Criminal Police Department. Acting US Attorney Parekh also announced today that he has appointed the following AUSAs as additional civil rights coordinators in all four geographic divisions of EDVA: Jamar K. Walker, Alexandria; Stephen E. Anthony (Richmond), E. Rebecca Gantt (Norfolk) and D. Mack Coleman (Newport News). These civil rights coordinators will act as in-house experts and provide legal advice and training on best practices for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes and other civil rights violations to other AUSAs and IT staff in coordination with the Department of Civil Rights of the Department of Justice. In addition, the civil rights coordinators will work with partners at the federal, state and local levels to expand EDVA’s existing outreach programs by raising awareness and working proactively with communities to increase hate crime reporting and the Strengthen collective law enforcement response to these critical issues.
The establishment of the Criminal Civil Rights Team follows the announcement of the establishment of the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit in the EDVA’s Civil Division in connection with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EDVA’s Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has done pioneering work to enforce the ADA and ensure equal access to public housing such as health care providers and state and local government services such as polling stations, in addition to protecting the rights of military personnel and veterans under the Civil Aid Act for soldiers and the Law on Employment and Re-Employment Rights for Uniformed Services. The Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has also interacted extensively with the vulnerable communities that these laws seek to protect and provides basic education so that individuals can understand and exercise the rights granted by the law.
Although the work of the unit’s civil rights enforcement unit has focused primarily on enforcing federal laws protecting the civil rights of veterans and people with disabilities, acting U.S. Attorney Parekh announced today that the unit’s work will focus on enforcing the civil rights laws of the Federal expansion is extended to all protected persons in connection with housing discrimination and harassment, acts that inappropriately encumber religious expression, and law enforcement and correctional authorities who engage in a pattern or practice of illegal behavior.
The Civil Rights Enforcement Department in the EDVA’s Civil Department includes AUSA Steve Gordon, who serves as the Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator, and AUSAs Lauren F. Oberheim, Deirdre G. Brou, and Clare P. Wuerker. AUSA Wuerker will concentrate her civil rights work on model or practice allegations in the context of criminal prosecution and the penal system.
“These increased efforts within EDVA’s criminal and civil departments will strengthen our office’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that the civil rights of all those who call the Eastern District of Virginia home – especially those in vulnerable communities – are vigorously protected,” said the Acting US Attorney Parekh.
A copy of this news release is available on the US Attorney’s website for the Eastern District of Virginia.