Civil Rights Leaders Hold Closed-Door Meeting with AG Jeff Sessions to Address Concerns

Civil rights leaders leave the Justice Department following a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in Washington, on March 7, 2017. From left: Melanie Campbell, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation; Kristen Clarke, The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network, Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and Marc Morial, National Urban League. Cliff Owen / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday met with some of his most ardent opponents: leaders of civil rights organizations who are resisting the Justice Department’s movement on a number of issues, from police reform to voting rights to immigration crackdowns to reported spikes in hate crimes.

The closed-door meeting was the culmination of attempts by both sides to begin a dialogue on some of the most divisive stances taken by the Trump administration. Among them, Sessions’ decision to pull back the Justice Department’s legal challenge to a strict voting rights law in Texas that the Obama administration said discriminated against minorities.

The meeting came on a day weighted with historical significance: it was the 52nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a clash between police and marchers in Selma, Alabama over African-American voting rights. Sessions, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. senator, is from Selma.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, whose organization had joined the government in fighting the law, said she and her colleagues heard about the shift last month while on a plane to Texas to argue the case.

Ifill said after the meeting Tuesday that she told Sessions how disappointed she was, and asked his agency to show more courtesy. She said she also asked Sessions to advise President Trump to back off claims of widespread voter fraud, which contradicts studies showing that illegal voting is rare.

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Source: NBC News | JON SCHUPPE