Hello, DOJ? We’ve got ‘plain, in-your-face mutilation and modern-day lynching’ here

Hello, DOJ, civil rights division? We’ve got a ‘plain, in-your-face mutilation and modern-day lynching’ situation in Kansas City, Kansas, as one of the many victims of KCK police thuggery accurately described it last week.

So here’s our question to you, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and anyone with President Joe Biden’s ear. We’re asking because we persist in believing that if any of you knew about this not-OK situation, you wouldn’t be OK with it, either:

How many deaths, rapes, wrongful convictions and other assorted terrors would it take to get somebody with subpoena power and no conflicts of interest to look into the crimes of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, anyway?

In case you think that all of the above must surely be hyperbole, listen to retired FBI agent Alan Jennerich, who swore to the following in an affidavit in exoneree Lamonte McIntyre’s case six years ago:

“Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I investigated officers of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department who were suspected of engaging in a variety of illegal activity including drug trafficking, soliciting, payoffs, using excessive force and stealing from those they were sworn to protect. In all, I investigated perhaps 15 to 20 officers who were suspected of civil rights violations and other offenses under federal criminal law.

“Investigating those officers posed a significant challenge,” he said, “as the culture of the KCKPD tended to protect the wrongdoers. The ‘blue code” of silence meant that the officers did not report the misconduct of other officers, even when that misconduct was criminal. Further, as I discovered, corruption at the KCKPD was longstanding and systemic, and many of the commanding officers swept wrongdoing under the rug rather than confronting it and rooting it out.”

As he says, the FBI has looked into this situation, on and off, since the ‘80s, leading nowhere in particular, and not for lack of evidence.

In any normal police investigation, if the one common denominator of a series of unsolved murders were that all of the victims had been sexually exploited by one man, wouldn’t that man be a suspect?

In this case, that man, then-KCKPD homicide detective Roger Golubski, also investigated some of their murders.

Is it normal anywhere else in the universe to just let that go? For nothing to happen for years after he’s been accused of setting up poor Black men and raping, stalking and threatening more poor Black women than we could ever tell you about, because the allegations are so numerous?

Normally, to launch a civil rights investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office would open a file for grand jury purposes and request assistance from both the local FBI and the main DOJ in Washington. That’s why the choice of the next U.S. Attorney in the District of Kansas is so important, because it has to be someone who will be willing to do that. A DOJ-based investigation is also necessary given the embedded problems in the Kansas City, Kansas U.S. Attorney’s office, where a number of assistant U.S. attorneys have close personal and professional relationships with those inside the KCKPD.

KCK police department ‘riddled with corruption’

A letter we received this week, from a former Kansas City, Kansas official in response to our ongoing coverage of Golubski said this: “The KCK Police Department was — and continues to be — riddled with corruption. Such is NOT a secret in KCK!!!!”

Noooo kidding. So why does nothing ever happen to bring Golubski and his many protectors to account?

It’s long been clear that the federal government is the only institution with the tools and the independence to root out decades of obscene racist law enforcement in Kansas City, Kansas.

The U.S. Justice Department should announce a full review of the KCKPD for the civil rights violations perpetrated by Golubski and all of the co-conspirators who have covered up his shocking behavior for decades.

The FBI should provide the evidence it has gathered to federal prosecutors who should then present their findings to a federal grand jury for criminal indictments.

As that process continues, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division must begin negotiations with the KCKPD over a consent agreement that would address the systemic racism in the department.

Year after year and decade after decade, residents of KCK have begged the local government to repair this broken system.

But mayors and commissioners have come and gone without enacting any serious reform. All along allowing Golubski and other criminals with a badge to do as they pleased, first on the public payroll and then while collecting a public pension.

Local prosecutors have shown a similar reluctance to pursue the case.

Derek Schmidt, Laura Kelly and Sharice Davids, all MIA for justice

The state of Kansas has done zero to take on this not-so-natural disaster. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt even fought to keep the state from paying exoneree Lamonte McIntrye the compensation that the Kansas owed him for the 23 years that were stolen from him because of Golubski’s lies.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and her fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, who represents Kansas City, Kansas in Congress, have made no noise about these problems. And honestly, if you can’t stand up against such blatant official wrongdoing, why present yourself for public service at all?

The only answer now is to call in the federal prosecutors, who have the ability to subpoena records and demand testimony. They have access to records and investigative material. They have the resources to sweep away the web of lies that has allowed Golubski and others to escape punishment.

The feds hold the tools of broad-based civil rights enforcement as well. In mid-April, Garland rightly restored the use of consent decrees to address police corruption, a practice that Donald Trump had abandoned.

“The department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights,” Garland said. Kansas City, Kansas needs him to honor that pledge.

‘We’ve got to plow through and be strong’

Consent decrees set standards for anti-discriminatory behavior, allow for continuing supervision of police departments and establish punishments for those who don’t address civil rights concerns. They’ve been used in numerous cities — Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Ferguson, Missouri.

The feds took control of Kansas City’s housing department, and the Jackson County jail. The problems in the KCKPD are no less acute.

New KCK police chief Karl Oakman should ask for a full federal inquiry into his own new department, which otherwise will continue to have no credibility in the community it theoretically serves.

Vanita Gupta, take one look, please, into the face of Ellen Betts, whose son has so far served 23 years in a Kansas prison after being wrongfully convicted of a KCK murder he did not commit.

“They’ve been doing this a long time to people,” Betts said. “We’ve got to plow through and be strong, but it’s plain, in-your-face mutilation and modern-day lynching.”

How long is Betts supposed to have to “plow through and be strong,” anyway? If the DOJ did know what’s happening in KCK to this day, surely they’d be here tomorrow. Or at the latest, the day after that.

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