Trump Administration Suddenly Gets Interested in Civil Rights

California’s attorney general decided this week not to file charges against two Sacramento police officers who killed Stephon Clark last year. Today the Trump administration announced that they would review the case for possible civil rights violations:

Federal authorities announced Tuesday they will conduct a civil rights review of the police shooting of an unarmed black man in California’s capital last March, a killing that triggered a year of racial upheaval in Sacramento and has become the focus of legislation to curb the use of deadly force.

U.S. Atty. McGregor Scott and Sean Ragan, who heads the FBI’s Sacramento office, said the federal probe would examine “results of the state and local investigations,” and will determine whether the slaying of Clark, 22, violated his federal civil rights. A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on why the Clark case warranted further examination, saying only that the review was “standard practice.”

Normally, I’d say this was a good thing and then move on. But I’m a suspicious person, and my first thought was that this actually seemed fairly non-standard for the Trump administration. Then, by chance, I came across a Vice article today that showed just how non-standard it was:

The Trump administration sure doesn’t seem very interested in civil rights violations, does it? So why the interest in Stephon Clark? Is it because his shooting happened in California and Trump is interested in stirring up racial controversy in California?

I don’t know. I’m just asking questions here, OK?


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.