By Amber Randall
The Department of Justice under the Trump administration has steadily been establishing a strong track record on civil rights by prosecuting hate crimes and putting white supremacists behind bars.
The media has slammed the president and his administration as being terrible for civil rights, but the DOJ, guided by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been quietly putting away people for acts of discrimination and for targeting people based on their sexual identities or race.
Here are five such cases:
1.) Texas man in jail after targeting gay man over dating app
The DOJ prosecuted 20-year-old Chancler Encalade under hate crime charges for using Grindr, a gay dating app, to target and physically assault a gay man.
Encalade, sentenced to 15 years in prison, admitted that he and a friend met at a gay man’s house and used tape to physically restrain him while they assaulted him. The pair also said they made various negative statements about the man being gay and stole his property.
“The defendant targeted his victim with violence because of his sexual orientation, and used the internet to facilitate this crime,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division said in February. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes such as this one.”
2.) Mississippi man gets 49 years for killing trans woman
A Mississippi man, Joshua Brandon Vallum, was sentenced to almost 50 years in prison after he assaulted and murdered Mercedes Williamson, a trans woman, over the victim’s gender identity.
Vallum, who was having a sexual relationship with Williamson, decided to murder her after some of his friends found out Williamson was transgender.
“Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals,” said Sessions in May 2017. “The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes.”
3.) Three men thrown in jail for assaulting interracial couple
The DOJ also prosecuted three Florida men in August 2017 for assaulting and harassing an interracial couple that moved in the neighborhood.
Two of the accused men, Thomas Herris Sigler, III and William A. Dennis, used racial slurs and derogatory statements when they talked to the black man and his partner. The group eventually erected a burning cross in the interracial couple’s front yard.
“The victims were attacked and threatened in their own neighborhood and home because of their race,” Gore said. “Such violence and intimidation has no place in our society, the Justice Department is committed to protecting the rights of all citizens, and will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals who commit such atrocious acts of hate.”
4.) Neo-Nazi group leader sentenced for unlawfully possessing “explosive materials”
A neo-Nazi group leader was sentenced to five years in a federal prison after he was found to unlawfully possess unregistered destructive device and for unlawful storage of explosive materials.
“Russell, an active and founding member of a neo-Nazi group, was sentenced today by a federal judge after he unlawfully possessed and stored dangerous explosive materials in his home,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente in January. “This case is but one example of the National Security Division’s resolve to identify, disrupt and prevent terrorist threats, whether domestic or international.”
5.) Arizona man found guilty of hate crime against black man
Arizona resident Mark Porter was found guilty of committing a federal hate crime after he yelled a racial slur at a neighbor’s young son and used a stun gun device on the son’s father.
Porter also detailed about how he did not want to live around black people and how he felt that they should all be exterminated.
“Porter’s violent conduct, motivated by his intolerance of another race, is an egregious crime that will not be tolerated by this Justice Department,” Gore said in March. “We will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute hate crime cases.”