Attorney General Eric Holder was Harassed by Police on the N.J. Turnpike

In his prepared remarks to the 2013 NAACP convention, Attorney general Eric Holder described how he had been stopped, and his car searched, for no apparent reason on the New Jersey Turnpike. Here is the relevant section of his talk, delivered July 16, 2013:

Even as this convention proceeds, we are all mindful of the tragic and unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin last year – in Sanford, just a short distance from here – and the state trial that reached its conclusion on Saturday evening. Today, I’d like to join President Obama in urging all Americans to recognize that – as he said – we are a nation of laws, and the jury has spoken. I know the NAACP and its members are deeply, and rightly, concerned about this case – as passionate civil rights leaders, as engaged citizens, and – most of all – as parents. This afternoon, I want to assure you of two things: I am concerned about this case and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it. While that inquiry is ongoing, I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take.

Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly – and openly – about the complicated and emotionally-charged issues that this case has raised.

Years ago, some of these same issues drove my father to sit down with me to have a conversation – which is no doubt familiar to many of you – about how as a young black man I should interact with the police, what to say, and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I thought was unwarranted. I’m sure my father felt certain – at the time – that my parents’ generation would be the last that had to worry about such things for their children.

Since those days, our country has indeed changed for the better. The fact that I stand before you as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, serving in the Administration of our first African American President, proves that. Yet, for all the progress we’ve seen, recent events demonstrate that we still have much more work to do – and much further to go. The news of Trayvon Martin’s death last year, and the discussions that have taken place since then, reminded me of my father’s words so many years ago. And they brought me back to a number of experiences I had as a young man – when I was pulled over twice and my car searched on the New Jersey Turnpike when I’m sure I wasn’t speeding, or when I was stopped by a police officer while simply running to a catch a movie, at night in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. I was at the time of that last incident a federal prosecutor.

Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15 year old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world he must still confront. This is a sad reality in a nation that is changing for the better in so many ways. [snip]

You can read the full text of Mr. Holder’s July 16, 2013 speech here: http://goo.gl/pUmKl

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