tv Washington Journal CSPAN December 4, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm EST
us in support of our community. we are very honored to have with us representatives of several of these allies, the anti-defamation league, the interface alliance, the southern poverty law center, the human rights campaign. religious campaign against torture. they have stood up for american values. they have stood with muslim advocates and the muslim american community. now i think it is our turn to stand up and express our appreciation for their support and friendship. i ask you to join me in standing up and expressing our support to our allies in this difficult time. [applause]
we are thankful for our friends and allies, but we know they are not alone. toknow we need to do more make it easier for fair-minded americans to stand up for what is right and what is just. months,why in coming muslim advocates will be launching a new campaign to counter anti-muslim bigotry, and i look forward to sharing more details about that very soon. so, with the support of forward thinking donors, we have been making progress, because we are stronger together. forward thinking donors include
him.e like he is the father of three adorable young kids. like many of you, his hopes and isams for the future inextricably tied to his children. he emigrated to the united as a teenager,ia fleeing dictatorship and seeking freedom. but now he sees this climate of and anti-muslim rhetoric and he is concerned about his kids. he does not want his kids to be raised in this kind of situation. to protect his part our nation's founding values, our shared values that bring us together as americans. that is why he supports muslim advocates. but he is not alone. like him many people
in our country, including in this room this evening. is on your left. he is on your right, and he is year. know you have your own hopes and dreams for your family, for , that your family, your friends, your children will be treated with respect and dignity. together, we can make that dream come true. we can make progress as we move forward together. thank you all for joining us this evening. [applause] applause. round of
she will be back later with the attorney general to interview her. at i hope her words inspired you. i do want to say briefly, the stakes that we are talking about , itmuslims, especially now is literally a matter of life and death. how many of you have heard of glendon scott crawford. he was convicted in august of plotting to slaughter muslims up there. he was convicted. he got 25 years to life. how about robert dold are? planning with a group of men with a machete to cut the muslims to shreds and kill them. how do you tell your children that people are coming to kill you just because of your faith? those are the stakes we are dealing with. i hope you keep that in mind.
there are cards on your table. i'm an optimist. i think that the work is on the front lines of making life better. there are no hurricane muslim names. that's helpful. turn on your tv. "hurricane mahmoud is coming." that's not helpful. look away. most americans will not let them do that. keep in mind -- we will continue on now. we have the opportunity to honor an outstanding ally who has been crucial. we will be honoring the former head of the interfaith analysis -- society.
our next speaker as a deep understanding of public policy. she used to work for the aclu. she's really a powerhouse and a firestarter. please welcome her. [applause] >> good evening. tonight i have the honor of -- presenting the voice i encourage award to the getty.d dr. c. wilson for 16 years he flew back and forth between monroe, louisiana and washington dc so he could pastor of his church.
he is loud and proud. if you see something wrong, he will call it out. you will likely -- you have likely heard him fighting bigotry,ely against whether it is on in bid -- msnbc or his radio show. he certainly does not accept the idea that we have to choose between national security and civil rights. we became close with him during thehysteria outstanding new york city.in all of us rumor the inflammatory thatric from hate groups
provoke take crimes and intimidation of muslims all over the country. the community was terrified. it was unfortunately not unlike the time we face today. he understood the importance of building alliances. he set up a meeting with then attorney general eric holder. during that meeting, he pull any did not punches. he called on the attorney general and the president to do more and to do better. and when peter came, organized the first ever meetings --geting a religious group when peter king organized the first ever meetings targeting a religious group, an american muslims, he organized a group to fight back. we have worked to respond to terry jones, bigoted fbi
training, and there was certainly no bigger supporter of our advocacy to stop surveillance and harassment of american muslims by the nypd. his team single-handedly coordinated one of the most powerful amicus briefs in support of our case. is one of the first people we hear from during a time of crisis for the community. he always asks, "what can i do to help?" he said about leaving the interfaith alliance, i don't have the sense that jefferson or god is wringing their hands because i am leaving. i don't know about jefferson or god, but i can tell you the advocatesng of muslim started the day you said you're moving on. [applause] much for everything you have done for the american
boards of the interfaith alliance gave me the opportunity to serve every day at the intersection of religion, government, and politics, advocating for our first freedom and encouraging interreligious cooperation. i have the good fortune of and mymy passion my work work my passion. my presence in that office allowed me the privilege of regularly learning from and cooperatively interacting with muslim advocates. afforded mealues the opportunity to express my patriotism through efforts to move our nation closer to full and the recognition
inclusive,on can be healing, and compassionate in its relationship to all people. working alongside individuals who also understand the importance of religious freedom and the necessity of justice for all, individuals who share my conviction that religion pulsates with mutual compassion, my colleagues in muslim advocates became my friends. she is not only a strong and wise national leader. she is a smart, courageous woman who i consider a sister. gratitude for this honor this evening comes easily.
negative emotions also disturbed my heart and mind tonight. nation is well with our or with our world. understatement. values ofundamental religion and democracy so prominent in our work together , to an extente that the meaning, integrity, and in religiouseedom freedom for all americans are seriously threatened. candidates for the highest office in our land sounds like favor of anarchy over -- anarchy over democracy, something is bad wrong. religiouserson's
identity can be considered a justification for hate and , the health of the soul of our public needs to be re-examined. having spent most of my adult life promoting, protecting, and defending religious freedom, i i do not you that think we could pass the first amendment to the constitution today. extremely shortsighted people are seeking to change the , in order of liberty to claim a freedom for themselves they refused to extend to others. [applause] i hurt with you, as
well as stand beside you in support, knowing that muslims are under a severe attack that includes despicable violence by people who do not understand either the constitution or islam. reminded of the dark days of the civil rights movement, when under threats of danger, devotees of basic constitutional rights had to stick protection through lobbying for new laws or insisting on the enforcement of laws already on our books, while at the same time, trying to change the hearts and minds of the american people. to change those minds. we have to have those laws.
thankfully, muslim advocates is aware of that strategy. you have heard it. legal initiatives are an -- legale no office initiatives are imperative. in our nation is impervious to the guarantee of freedom for all people. when it comes to issues of the i am speaking now to the muslim community, when it comes to issues of the heart, you should not have to go it alone. it is far past time for all religions in this land, majority religions, minority religions, to position themselves alongside muslims and remain alongside you, tirelessly advocating for eradicating hates and practicing justice as you
are having to experience. [applause] had thedy: what we honor of doing together, along with other colleagues, sitting at a table with the attorney general of the united states, seeking wisdom that would move , andrough crises clarifying the difference between a religion of peace and a sick organization from the house to promote the
benefits for minority groups are up the nation. that work was fulfilling and fun for us. it is work that has to be done -- in media, coffeehouses, humanist gatherings, board tables, universities, atheist organizations, houses of worship. if most of us are not free in this nation, none of us are free in this nation. muslimy grateful for advocates and for this honor you have given to me, and i hope that our time of celebration can serve as an inspiration and a time for all ourselves.commit
to work -- please god -- for the possibility of peace. thank you. [applause] >> [indiscernible] dean: we are going to continue on. our next to speakers a friend of mine all the way from new jersey as well. he is a councilmember in teaneck. he was a mayor, the first mayor who is muslim, i think in the
history -- no? sorry, buddy. really know the guy. i just met them before. no, i'm kidding. he's my body. buddy.s my here is someone i actually know. great guy. i know them both. he is a member of congress in his fourth full term and the -- he iste of indiana work to protect the rights of americans from all walks of life. he is an advocate for everyone. been luckycates have to have congressman carson. ever since the dreadful peter king hearings -- do you guys remember that, five years ago? which painted the muslim american committee with a broad congressman carson has spoken out on the issue. he convened a briefing with members of congress this year with representative judy chu and keith ellison about
anti-muslim bigotry and white is important. it's a pleasure to introduce a anti-muslim bigotry and why it is important. it's a pleasure to introduce a great guy. congressman andre carson. [applause] carson: thank you, dean, for that introduction. i'm sorry, mayor. i want to thank the muslim also forstaff and -- just her leadership. also her partner in righteousness -- thank you. absolutely. you know, it is so nice to be here, to celebrate the 10th of muslim advocates.
it is a organization i have worked closely with. about thisk openly great community. we are all familiar with what this great organization stands for, what it is all about. but what many people are probably unfamiliar with is that this group is able to get great d.c.s done in washington, each and every year. muslim advocates have a presence and have held a presence on capitol hill like very few other organizations who are represented here. you all do great work in your own right. i think muslim advocates are
special in their own right by excelling to draw members of congress together to support causes, to leave the charge for policy changes in the administration, or even the of legislation in the house and senate. surecome together to make decision makers understand stereotypes and bigotry facing american muslims each and every day. they hold members of congress accountable for doing what is right, even when it is not politically expedient. i often referred to muslim onocates as my eyes and ears the ground. rely on them.nd i
they bring me the purest information, the most reliable and the kind of information that will help us in congress make the soundest decisions. i trust them knowing they are experts on law and policy matters. i look forward to working with them in the future. advocates, and through history, the kind of advocacy that they represent has in our society. think of advocates on the ground like frederick douglass, working with brothers and sisters in the movement, working with president them lincoln to emancipate
slaves. -- abraham lincoln to emancipate the slaves. think of at gives on the ground, doing what needed to be done to push then president truman to desegregate the military. i think about those numerous advocates in the form of fannie lou hamer and dr. martin luther joseph --abbi abraham rabbi abraham joshua has shuttle, and those on the ground , doinge faith community what needs to be done to convince congress and president johnson to sign the voting rights act, the civil rights act. and i think about the great work you are doing today. and i think about the importance of having our top law enforcement officer in the country to be an advocate on behalf of the american people. that is why it is a tremendous attorneyintroduce
general loretta lynch. [applause] this is her first public event with the american muslim community. i met her in new york when she was u.s. attorney. at an event for the muslim community. but you have to understand that as a child she and her father would literally visit the courthouse and durham, north carolina to watch the court proceedings. her interest in the court room out of memories she shared with her grandfather. who helpedarecropper african-americans in the south to avoidthe north persecution based on racist jim crow laws.
even before becoming the chief on enforcement officers she used the courts to fight for justice , liberty and equality. ,and notably, she played a critical role in prosecuting those new york city police officers who assaulted a haitian immigrant. she began her career in public service as a federal crossing -- federal prosecutor with the u.s. attorney's office. she worked on narcotics and violent crime, public corruption, and civil rights cases. was appointed u.s. attorney by and presidents clinton president obama. she performed her own work protecting human rights.
she made history as the first african-american woman to serve in this great role. [applause] she's tough. now since she was first nominated, i have no chance to -- i have had a chance to get to know her, and one thing i can say for certain, our community and our country, we have an attorney general that deeply cares for justice and for fairness. muslim americans held back by discrimination or threatened by hatred, we have an advocate at the department of justice. we should feel confident that she will not only stand with us -- muslims in our most difficult times, she will stand with all americans and make sure they have equality under the law. please welcome our attorney your feet forn
loretta lynch. to the stage. [applause] conversation -- four a.d. conversation -- [indiscernible] >> madam attorney general, welcome. it is an honor to have you join first publicrse -- event with the american muslim community. i must say it could not come at a more important time for community. thank you for joining us. attorney general lynch: thank you for having me. let me make sure my microphone is on. if you cannot hear me let me know.
i think i'm still muted. ok, how is that? no? i will tell you that rarely have i have trouble being heard . [laughter] lynch: usuallyl it's the opposite problem. is it coming up? yes. let's get this repositioned and see. thank you so much. so, just so you know, my son here -- nt director [laughter] attorney general lynch: is extremely talented head of my civil rights division. she saves me on a daily basis from any number of issues. make sure we have this in the right spot. i'm quite glad she was here
tonight. ok, great. [applause] [laughter] attorney general lynch: despite that technical issue caused solely by me, let me apologize -- let me thank the entire board and group for this invitation. i'm so excited to be here. let me say i appreciated this invitation on what i understand is your 10th anniversary area is -- on your 10th anniversary. it is very special when groups as dedicated and focused as yours invite me to share an important event. it truly means a lot to me personally and as the attorney general. i thank you for the invitation. [applause] >> thank you for accepting. maybe to kick things off the do -- maybe just to kick things off, maybe just start us off by
telling us what you see is your highest priority as attorney general? attorney general lynch: obviously there are a number of issues that challenge the department of justice. many of which the muslim advocates are deeply involved in. i thank you for your partnership. the work of the department is varied. it is wide. it is multifaceted. i'm focusing in the time that i have on four main areas. that in no way diminishes issues that we discover and others. i focusing on national security terrorism, because as we have seen the threats are ever evolving and widespread. they affect us, they affect our partners. and i think frankly, they are affecting us in deep and fundamental ways. they are causing us to look at how we evaluate certain crimes in the language you use to describe them and forcing us, i hope in an ultimately positive way to grapple with the issue of
protecting ourselves and protecting our rights. those are very, very important issues to me. also focusing on the issue of cyber security. if anyone has been near a computer lately, you basically need to have a 12-year-old to help you interpret it. with the explosion of the ease and simplicity and frankly, the great abilities of the cyber world, living in the cloud, friendly, how it leaves us open to exploitation. we have an extremely strong community.rial oh, this is great. thank you. oh, this is great. thank you very much. i will tell you i promise not to sing. [laughter]
lynch: despitel having this snazzy new mic. weh cyber security, as expand into new and other areas, particularly when it comes the entrepreneurial spirit of our country, some of work is done these days with designers and developers online. intellectual property is a the theft ofintellectual property is a multibillion-dollar issue. and certainly we're working on important ways including with china. another main priority is human trafficking. that grew out of work i did as an attorney in new york. i saw so many cases there, primarily young women and girls lured from other countries with false promises of a better life, promises all of in american life. and those promises would turn into nightmares.
the more i looked into that issue the more i realize what a widespread and largely invisible crime this is in how so many of our young women and girls are at risk and once they fall into this how hard it is to get out , and even when they can be difficult it can be for them to reintegrate into society. and i think there's too much value in the power of women and girls to allow a single one of them to be thrown away. that's why it's a priority of mine. [applause] attorney general lynch: my other main priority has been focusing on the relationship between law enforcement and the communities we serve. i think -- it is an issue i have been looking at frankly, since my earliest days as a prosecutor in new york city. the congressman mentioned one of the cases that i did only highlighted that me some very -- that for me in some very significant and meaningful ways.
i worked with the chinese-american community and had occasion to work on those issues. that has been a priority of mine as well. and the me. of other things the department does. >> great. let's maybe start to dig down into zones syndicate. dig down into some deeper issues. i think it is your minds of many american muslims is the tragic -- this is the tragic attacks in paris two weeks ago there's been , a decidedly disturbing uptake in anti-muslim rhetoric. many of his frankly feel that the rhetoric the worst that it ever been we are very concerned about the environment. in light of these attacks, this toxic climate, what message does the federal government have for the american muslim community? attorney general lynch: could
-- thank you. you could not have touched on a more timely issue. saw here in the u.s., it is a disturbing rise in anti-muslim rhetoric. the fear, you mentioned, is my greatest fear as a prosecutor, as someone who was sworn for the protection of all of the american people, which is that the rhetoric will be accompanied with acts of violence. obviously the events in paris were a tragedy and i know everyone sympathizes with the victims there and the tremendous loss of life and we continue to support that investigation. the is important to know is department of justice will not give in to fear. my message do not just the muslim community, but the entire american community as we cannot give in you just mentioned is my
we all remember, whether it is 9/11 or a neighbor of yours is assaulted, when you feel that you do start to spin and try to find ways that you think will be the easy fix, the simple to corral an issue or contain a concern. becomes that it path. 9/11 and those were very, very difficult days. i heard disturbing things from people i never thought i would hear certain things from. now i think with the rise of the internet, the ability of people hateful speech of all types from the anonymity of a thatn is something increases that rhetoric. obviously this is a country based on free speech, but when
it edges toward a, when we see , someone lifting that mantle of anti-muslim rhetoric, or when we see violence directed at individuals who may not be muslims, but may be perceived to be muslims. when we see that we will take action. we cannot be ruled by fear. when we are ruled by fear, we are not making ourselves safe. we are not effective. we're not thinking things through. we are not looking at what works. we have now, sadly, a lot of experience in this area and a lot of this field. this is what we do 24/7. say, if we stop the refugees and sign the bill, to guarantee them -- this is not the way. i will look at anything and consider anything that will keep
the american people safe, visibly rushing to judgment -- you take aggressive action. you don't take impetuous action. then you waste your resources. my message to the muslim standing is we are with you on this. the muslim advocates understand the power of language. the power for harm, but the incredible power of language for good. the incredible power of language to educate, inform, and educate. i think it is so tremendously important in this time to let your voices be heard. as you do that, no, please know, that the department of justice, and this attorney general will be your partner in that effort. [applause]
>> thank you for the kind words, and the clarity. i think that is needed. thank you very much. we have been noticing an uptick in hate crime incidents affecting individuals and institutions. in the wake of the paris attacks, we have been noticing a disturbing, even greater rate of attack. i was wondering if you could tell us what the justice department is doing to hold perpetrators accountable. attorney general lynch: my very important partner in the leadership of civil rights is here. for us, it has been an important issue since 9/11. the last several years, and as you mentioned recently, we has also seen an uptick -- have also seen an uptick.
it is incredibly disturbing. the only notes i brought -- i wanted to make sure i had the information on this issue, if it came up. i am incredibly proud of the work that our civil rights division does. terms of cases, but also investigations and counseling. but where we do see anti-muslim rhetoric and actions turn to violence, we take action. criminal prosecutions. the matthew shepard jamesburg hate crime act has been effective. i want to know -- we have charged 225 defendants with hate crimes over the last six years , most of those over the last three years. since 9/11 there have been allegations including rhetoric , bigoted actions with over 45
prosecutions arising out of that. i think sadly, that number will , continue. i think it is important however that as we again, talk about the importance of free speech -- we make it clear, action predicated on violent talk are not america. they're not who we are, they are not what we do. they will be prosecuted. a what that message to be clear also. >> great, thank you. [applause] >> another area of concern that the immunity has been facing in -- that our community has been facing in recent years is when , the community is trying to build mosques or expand, they encounter opposition at a local level that sometimes is with the veneer of being a zoning issue. it is motivated by anti-muslim attitude.
obviously the country has a robust first amendment coming guaranteeing freedom of worship, that includes building houses and mosques. i was wondering what your advice was for community efforts trying to go about first amendment rights to practice faith and build a house of worship. loretta: with my own background, -- attorney general lynch: obviously with my own , background, i think that is important. houses of worship can be the heart of a community. they can be the cradle of a family, they can be places where children go to learn, not just faith, but to make friends. they are essential to a healthy america. every community deserves the right to have those houses of worship operate in safety and peace. as the muslim community expands, which is a wonderful thing. they have been in this country as long as any group. we have some of the most oldest and most beautiful mosques in this hemisphere. >> that's right. attorney general lynch: i think
what you will see as people continue down this path -- which i think frankly, is an unfortunate one, but it is driven by fear. people will try to use things such as you mentioned, zoning laws to try and make them a bludgeon against a peaceful religion and a house of worship. frankly, wouldn't you rather have a house of worship in your midst as opposed to a strip mall? i don't know. or some other thing. maybe not. in terms of the value of it. it is something where the value has been seen for years, until we get these backlashes. we have a very, very active practice in the residential -- essentially it protects the freedom to build a mosque, and the freedom to practice religion.
most of the cases under that statute that get the most attention tend to involve institutionalized persons. it also focuses on the right to build a house of worship in an appropriately zoned area. we have a number of matters in which we have successfully defended the rights of mosques to either expand, as often is the case come or to build. i think one of the ones that was most known was the murphysboro case. i think the law was bent and twisted in a way that shows how strong this backlash can be. things like this when you have concerns like , that, please reach out to the department of justice. that is what we are here for. we are honored to take his -- those cases. [applause] lynch: i should also add, in respect to just -- not just houses of worship, but other areas we are seeing
concern, also, and for some time, specifically involve children, and the issue of bullying in schools. we have partnered with the department of education to provide guidance to schools on how to handle situations where students come to them and feel bullied. we have seen this for a number of years. we saw a lot in the new york area, unfortunately. where there would be a backlash against the muslim community, we in general. i think we as parents often feel we can withstand these issues, and we can argue back or talk back. but our children go to school, they do not have those tools yet. they do not know. kids are very good at finding a spot and pushing. we are active in that front as well. i would urge people if you are aware of situations were children are involved, please contact the department of justice and the department of education.
we can provide guidance and conversation. everything need not result in a lawsuit. some things do have to go to that area. we have an open investigation into the case of the young man in irving, texas. we will see were that investigation goes. you have extreme situations like that, but also the everyday things. we have an important role to play. please, please think of us there as well. >> great. thank you. [applause] let me first say, it is great to hear that the department has opened an investigation into the irving, texas high school. that case of the treatment of medond mohammed, -- ah mohammed, the kid with the homemade clock, was an issue of great concern. it really struck a chord with many parents.
we appreciate the department's leadership on that. the department's role in defending the right of the community is crucial. i don't know if you know this, but the community prevailed. they were able to proceed, build a mosque, and it opened a little over a year ago. they are a flourishing part of the community, supported by interfaith allies in the community. thank you for that important work. i want to turn now to a different issue, something you question them briefly in your opening remarks, the issue of law enforcement and community relations. as congressman carson mentioned , in the early part of your career as a federal prosecutor , you were part of a high-profile case of this brutal assault. profile cases of police brutality. that was in the late 90's. there was a public outcry that, hey, we need to do something about excessive use of force by law enforcement. and yet today it seems like we
, are having that conversation all over again. from michael brown to eric gardner to tamir rice. recently of course, jamar clark. to some, it seems like not much as changed. why has not much changed in the last 15 years? lynch: isaac al lot of time thinking about that. i will say i think we had, as difficult and as highly charged as the environment is now when it comes to police community relations, and these specific cases that we are talking about in a sense, the environment has , changed. it has become more difficult because we are seeing these things that are very, very vivid and hard to watch. and frankly painful to watch. , when we did a case in 1988, it
99. to trial in we did not have the videotapes people have now. even though most of the altercation occurred on the street. the initial beatings. these sexual assault at the police station was in a bathroom. we did not have videotapes. we had to pull it out of police witnesses, and also civilian witnesses who did not want to come forward. if you have ever thought about a difficult witness, imagine a police officer testifying in that kind of case. we did have officers who came forward and said, this is so wrong. the atmosphere at the time was that this crime is so horrific, and this action as described is so unbelievable, a lot of people have trouble believing it occurred. they were not unreasonable in that. who would think that uniformed new york city police officers would, in addition to beating
someone in the back of the car, sodomize someone with a broomstick? we had medical records. without those records i do not think we would have been able to go to trial. now, because of technology frankly, we have visual evidence of things that occur. not just of witness cell phones, but surveillance cameras, security cameras, and police body cameras and dashboard cameras. as i mentioned before they are , hard to watch. but they are so important to watch. they have given us the ability to open up this dialogue. it has really meant that not only law enforcement, but other members of the community who for a variety of reasons, never really accepted that this kind of misconduct went on. now they have to see what so many groups have been saying for so many years. when i go out -- i do a lot of talking to police groups, and
minority groups and different groups as well. the refrain among the police is, that would not happen. i understand that. no one wants to think your group of people that you support and know about would do some like that. a majority do not. and one case we had a tremendous amount of support from nypd officers. they viewed the action as so disgraceful, but they knew what it would bring upon the entire department. you have community groups saying, this does happen a lot. this happens all of the time. and when people would talk about -- whether it is stop and frisk or discourteous treatment or actual abuse, they would say, well, it is not that bad. or they say, i cannot believe that would happen. and that, in some ways, was the result. we have the dialogue and people
in the community understood completely what people were talking about. people outside of the community managed to move away from that. people move away from painful things. these videos mean we cannot do that. frankly, it has in many ways forced a discussion within law enforcement that has been long overdue. it has in many ways been very productive. it has been painful, it is not easy. now when i go out, i talked to police chiefs, and i talked to the rank and file. may say, this is not who we want to be. they come to the department, and they will request assistance. they will request that we come in and help them with training and help them with issues. not every department, obviously. we have a very active pattern of practice going on, and i am sure that will continue. the number of officers i have talked to, particularly the younger, minority officers say, i became a police officer because i want to stop kids from going down the wrong path.
give me the tools and training to do that. they can look at these videos and say, that's not what i want to be. the community deals with that and says, this is the example of what we have to stop. it is a different environment in that sense, in many ways it is a more painful conversation. i think we can use it to get to a better place. we can use it to come up with consistent standards, training, and possibly consistent standards on collection of data of these incidents of use of force. we need national data on these incidents. i talked to police departments also, they say, we agree, we agree, but it is burdensome. but when they do it with the consent decrees, they say, it really is useful and helpful. that is why we are talking with police groups now and doing national standards for the data of collections and use of force. this is vital to the discussion. >> ok. wonderful. we have time for one more
question. maybe just something to have the audience get to know your little bit. what has been the most rewarding part of your career? attorney general lynch: hmm. tell you, being attorney general is pretty good. [laughter] [applause] attorney general lynch: i have to say, you talk to most people with that question, many will probably look back at a point that at the time the situation they were in, they did not realize was so impactful, but looking back, it was. the work that i was able to do while i was in private practice, at a firm you know well. i spent a significant amount of time over years doing pro bono work at the international tribunal for rwanda. i taught a trial advocacy clinic with a group of other lawyers
for several years. then in the summer of 2005, the tribunal needed assistance with a witness tampering investigation. they asked me to do a special investigation for them. i spent most of the summer of 2005, 10 years ago, and rwanda -- in rwanda, interviewing genocide survivors in order to deal with the witness tampering investigation. i had to go back and reinvestigate the original massacre that was the topic of some testimony that possibly had been tainted. it was a tremendous experience. i spent a lot of time delving into the history of frankly, one of the most horrific acts i think civilization has seen. one group tried to wipe another from the face of the earth. it was rewarding as a prosecutor, moving as a person, and in many ways shook me. but it made me think a lot about
the basis for why we have the situation in so many instances in so many ways of man's inhumanity to man. it is tribalism, whether it is racism, whether it is xenophobia, whether it is the anti-muslim backlash we're talking about. we spend so much time and energy fighting ways to divide ourselves from each other and then thinking, aha! now that i have found a difference, i can act on it. it has really been an eye-opening experience to see this. i don't know the reason why. i do not pretend to understand the human condition and us to -- enough to know why we fall victim to this time and time again. i do not know that. what i did see as a result of the tribunal, is what happens
when people of goodwill and in many instances, people of good faiths, plural, come together and decide to stop it. when we descend into that, the heart of that darkness -- be it a genocide, racism, what we're talking about tonight, we pull together. for me, i turned to the law. other people turn to other types of organizations. we find a way to say, this is not who we are. and we find a way to try and get -- give justice to the victims of that kind of hatred. so, it made me tremendously sad to survivors and hear their stories. but it also made me proud that they trusted me with their stories. i was part of a system that has as its goal at its heart justice for them. i have kept that with me ever
since. i was fortunate enough to be back in rwanda a few weeks ago to revisit some of the locations. i think about that when i is -- when i am sitting in the attorney general's office. when someone asks me how i am doing, it has been a bad day or difficult day, i think am i am alive, no one has chased me wit. throughout this world and throughout this country there are people who cannot say that. i had the ability to do something about that. i had the ability and the team and the dedicated people who work all day and well into the night to stop that and do something about that and to find justice for people. what i realized is i cannot guarantee the absence of discrimination or hatred or prejudice, but i can guarantee the president of just -- the presence of juste.