President Donald Trump began his first term by attempting to roll back the civil rights gains that occurred under his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
Hours after Trump was sworn in as president, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice undertook actions that signaled a major shift in civil rights enforcement; particularly work on voting rights and policing reform.
“The actions taken so quickly are unprecedented,” said Joe Rich, the co-director of the Fair Housing and Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Rich is also a former attorney working in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Lawyers’ Committee held a conference call on Jan. 24 with the press on the current state of play in civil rights policy as the Trump Administration begins.
“We are concerned about the statements of President Trump which are an invitation for voter suppression tactics to be put on the books,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Civil rights groups are reeling from the number of moves the new administration has made in less than a week in office. Despite the situation, some hope was renewed by the massive and historic turnout of the Women’s March on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration.