Justice Department questions Seattle racial justice training

Seattle broke no laws while conducting racial justice training sessions for municipal employees, city officials said after receiving a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice about potential civil rights violations.

City officials perceived questions from the Justice Department as an attempt by the Trump administration to defend the status quo, The Seattle Times reports.

“This is a stunning illustration of the administration’s warped priorities,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement last week.

“In the midst of a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism and police violence, (the administration) is considering suing the City of Seattle for a training we provide that specifically seeks to combat racism and advance equity,” Durkan said.

Officials from the DOJ’s Employment Litigation Section sent an Aug. 26 letter to Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes questioning a June training session that was meant to interrupt “internalized racial superiority” and was directed at white employees.

DOJ officials also asked about a parallel training meant to combat “internalized racial inferiority” that was directed at employees of color.

Seattle’s training “may be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race,” the DOJ officials wrote.

The letter includes questions about who conducted Seattle’s training session, the subject matter taught and any complaints made by employees. The letter said no conclusions had been reached.

“However, there is certain information that we request in order to determine whether the City has violated Title VII by conducting separate training based on race” that may affect employment, the DOJ letter said.

The agency did not make Employment Litigation Section officials available for interviews.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget recently began scrutinizing anti-racism training sessions for federal employees. A memo released Friday called the training “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

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