One of the four leading prosecutors chosen to be on President Donald Trump’s law enforcement commission resigned last week after expressing “serious” concerns that the intention of the commission was not to bridge the gap between communities of color and law enforcement.
Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Attorney John Choi submitted his letter of resignation on September 3 to Attorney General William Barr after his concerns about the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice had not been not addressed since May.
Choi, a Democrat, said in his resignation letter that “it is now patently obvious … that this process had no intention of engaging in a thoughtful and open analysis, but was intent on providing cover for a predetermined agenda that ignores the lessons of the past, furthering failed tough-on-crime policies that led to our current mass incarceration crisis and fueling divisions between our communities and our police officers.”
The Justice Department did not return CNN’s request for comment. HuffPost was first to report on Choi’s resignation.
On May 29, Choi sent a letter – along with Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree – to the commission after hearing concerns raised by the NAACP and a host of other organizations about the “Commission’s process, inclusiveness and transparency, and whether the Commission’s processes conform to applicable federal law.”
The letter was sent four days after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the hands of police.
Choi and Dupree agreed with the community leaders that not having the community involved with the commission’s process was “deepening divides and fractured bonds of trust between law enforcement and communities of color.”
The prosecutors made three recommendations to the commission, including, making the “working groups” of the 15 other members, specifically the “Respect for Law Enforcement” group, available to all members.
“Most concerning, as prosecutors, is language in the President’s Executive Order as well as the charge of the Respect for Law Enforcement working group suggesting there may be language in the Commission’s final report that would seek to erode local prosecutorial discretion,” the district attorneys wrote in the two-page letter.
Four months later, their recommendations have not been addressed, and Choi quit.
“To date, I have yet to receive any response to the issues I raised and have grown increasingly concerned that the final report will only widen the divisions in our nation,” Choi wrote.
Choi also took issue with the commission inviting US Attorney William McSwain to testify after he said in July that “so-called progressive prosecutors have … little regard for the public safety,” and as a result, “[c]riminals bank on the fact that certain progressive policies … give them … breathing room to ply their trade.”
“While we did have some respectful and substantive conversations in my work group, I have little confidence that the concerns and perspectives of those who are peacefully taking to the streets right now, who have been advocating that over-policing disproportionately impacts people of color and those in under-resourced communities, are included in the Commission’s recommendations to you,” Choi wrote.