The Justice Department Office created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to help communities is foreseen to be eliminated with President Donald Trump’s proposed budget. The Community Relations Service would be entirely defunded and its responsibilities would be folded into the department’s Civil Rights Division, The Hill reports.
According to Lee Lofthus, who heads Justice’s administrative office, the sector would be able to continue the office’s work without the employees currently working at the service. The reason why officials decided to propose removing the office, according to Lofthus, was because they were challenged to save money.
The Community Relations Service was established in 1964 to help communities handle conflict related to race, color, or national origin. Afterwards, the directive was expanded and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious and disability issues were added. In 2009 the office began working on issues connected with hate crimes.
The people who work at the service lead training on conflict resolution. They also offer mediation for community members. The department proposed the elimination of the budget of the Community Relations Service, which 15 million dollars. Currently, 54 people work at the service.
Civil rights advocates argue that the elimination of the office would send a negative message about the stance that the Justice Department has about eh improving the community relations with law enforcement. Dismantling the service would be an absolute tragedy, Grande Lum, who ran the office from 2012 to 2016, thinks.
“We are at a time when there’s increased division in communities throughout this country, so this is a time to increase funding, not to eliminate it. They worked closely with Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders to help create positive, constructive outcomes and it would be really frustrating if that were shuttered forever,” Lum said.