Former DOJ official: Civil rights unit sent to mediate anti-Zimmerman protests has history of advocacy

The Department of Justice civil rights unit sent to Sanford, Florida in 2012 to mediate the anti-George Zimmerman protests has a history of putting racial advocacy ahead of its mandated duties, according to a former head of the unit.

“At CRS headquarters, we (meaning I) regularly had to warn or take corrective action against career employees for acting as advocates instead of mediators,” Ondray Harris, the former director of the DOJ’s Community Relations Service (CRS), told The Daily Caller. CRS was the unit deployed to Sanford in 2012 to oversee anti-Zimmerman protests.

“Some CRS employees come to the Agency with anti-law enforcement or anti- what they would call the ‘white establishment’ [attitudes]” added Harris, an African American who joined CRS during the administration of George W. Bush in 2007 and left in 2010.

As The Daily Caller previously revealed, CRS reported expenses related to its deployment in Sanford to help manage anti-Zimmerman protests between March and April 2012, including a high-profile rally headlined by civil rights activist Al Sharpton. CRS also facilitated a meeting between Sanford city officials and the activist group Dream Defenders, which campaigned last year for a criminal case against Zimmerman to be brought for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Dream Defenders also advocated for the removal of Sanford police chief Bill Lee, who was eventually fired. The meeting was convened to discuss changes to the Sanford Police Department.

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