July 3, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNPA) – On the same day that Loretta Lynch was sworn-in as the 83rd attorney general of the United States using a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass, nine church members were shot to death as they studied the Bible at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the oldest A.M.E. church in the South.
The next day, Lynch announced that the Justice Department would investigate the mass murder as a hate crime. She vowed that the person who was responsible for the “unspeakable acts” would be found and would face justice.
“As we move forward, my thoughts and prayers – and those of our entire law enforcement community, here at the Department of Justice and around the country – are with the families and loved ones of the victims in Charleston,” said Lynch. “Even as we struggle to comprehend this heartbreaking event, I want everyone in Charleston – and everyone who has been affected by this tragedy – to know that we will do everything in our power to help heal this community and make it whole again.”
The confessed perpetrator, Dylann Roof, 21, was apprehended in Shelby, N.C. shortly after Lynch made her statement. Multiple news outlets reported that he admitted to planning the attack and that he almost didn’t go through with it, because the church members were so nice to him.
During Lynch’s investiture ceremony, President Barak Obama said that in a country built on the rule of law, there are few offices more important than that of Attorney General.
“The person in this position is the American people’s lawyer, tasked with enforcing our federal laws and making sure they’re applied evenly and equally,” said President Obama.
He noted that Lynch “spent years in the trenches battling terrorism, and financial fraud, and cybercrime” rising from Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York to Chief of the Long Island Office, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Lynch worked to bring several New York City police officers to justice for their roles in the brutal assault of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant in 1997, following a wrongful arrest.
“She chased public corruption. She helped secure billions in settlements from some of the world’s biggest banks accused of fraud,” said President Obama. “She jailed some of New York’s most notorious and violent mobsters and gang members. She pursued some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and cyber criminals.”
The president joked that the timing of her installation was odd, because she hit the ground running more than a month ago, working for justice at home and abroad, after she was sworn-in at the Justice Department by Vice President Joseph Biden.
Lynch launched an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Baltimore Police Department following the tragic death of Freddie Gray while in their custody. In late May, Lynch said that nine officials with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization responsible for the regulation and promotion of soccer worldwide, would be charged with a number of crimes including racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering.
“She’s already made her mark here at home and abroad because of her laser focus on the core mission of the Justice Department – the protection of the American people,” said, President Obama.
In her remarks, Lynch promised to make world of cyberspace safe, to end the scourge of modern-day slavery, and to confront the fractured relationship between American citizens’ and law enforcement.
“These are, indeed, challenging issues and challenging times. Even as our world has expanded in wonderful ways, the threats that we face have evolved in measures commensurate, and every day we seem to see an increasing disconnect between the communities we serve and the government we represent,” said Lynch. “We see all these things.”
Lynch said that even though we decided what kind of country we wanted to be 200 years ago, sometimes we forget that our greatest advances in equal rights and human rights have come after periods of heartbreaking loss and we forget that overcoming those challenges has never been easy.
“And we have not always lived up to the promises made, but we have pushed ever on,” said Lynch. “And with every challenge, we get a little bit closer.”
Freddie Allen is the Washington Correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). A graduate of Howard University, Allen was a staff writer, photo editor and general manager of the District Chronicles. He also served as editor-in-chief of Ledge, a magazine devoted to healthy lifestyles and HIV/AIDS awareness among young people of color.