Detroit -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a crowd of law enforcement, and community and Muslim leaders Thursday the U.S. Justice Department "is again open for business."
"I can assure you under my leadership the Department of Justice will enforce all of our nation's laws with equal conviction," Holder declared, saying that under the Obama administration, the department will return to its "traditional" role of ensuring civil rights.
Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general, also said he ordered an internal review of law enforcement data within the U.S. Justice Department to study the issue of racial profiling.
"Racial profiling is simply not good law enforcement," said Holder, who told the crowd that he was racially profiled in the 1970s as a college student.
Holder also touched on other hot-button issues, saying the Justice Department is committed to fighting terrorism. But, said Holder, he also is committed to "ensure the fair application of our nation's laws and constitutional protections, and there is no contradiction between the two."
The speech came amid heightened sensitivities in the Muslim community, following the fatal shooting last month of Detroit Imam Luqman Abdullah by FBI agents and the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings that killed 13 people and wounded 29. The Fort Hood shootings rocked the nation and had Muslims bracing for a backlash.
An Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, was charged in the attack, and agents are probing his alleged contacts with a radical imam before the shootings.
Indeed, Holder said he has heard from Muslim- and Arab-Americans who said they feel uneasy about their relationship with the U.S. government.
"They feel isolated and discriminated against by law enforcement," Holder said. "Some of them have told me that they feel denied the full rights of citizenship." (More)