The legal watchdog Judicial Watch released an audio recording Thursday of a Department of Justice staffer urging Sanford, Fla., city officials and the minority advocacy group Dream Defenders to seek justice for Trayvon Martin, because "if a community perceives that there's something wrong in the black community, there's something wrong."
"CRS is an arm of the department that we call the Peacemakers," Thomas Battles, regional director of the DOJ's Community Relations Service, said at a meeting at the Shiloh Church on April 19, 2012. "We work with communities where there is real or perceived racial tensions."
Mr. Battles then introduced a member of the Dream Defenders.
"When Trayvon happened, for many of us, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back," the man said. "We had grown up in a state and environment where race is a way of life ... We're not from Sanford, but what Sanford represented to us was the very real problems going around this state and this country. We wanted to figure out how could we stand in solidarity, and how could we make this about not just justice for Trayvon, but using this moment and using the opportunity to honor his memory, to honor his spirit by working to bring down the various structures and the various systems that allow something like this to happen."
It was reported Wednesday, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, that from March 25 to April 12, CRS spent roughly $5,000 upon being deployed to Sanford to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies "related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain."
The findings, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "detail the extraordinary intervention by the Justice Department in the pressure campaign leading to the prosecution of George Zimmerman. My guess is that most Americans would rightly object to taxpayers paying government employees to help organize racially-charged demonstrations."
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