Judicial Watch, Inc. on April 24, 2012 launched an investigation into the Trayvon Martin case based on reports that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had sent a secret team of “peacekeepers” to Sanflord, Florida, where Martin was shot on February 26, 2012 after wandering in a gated community after dark. George Zimmerman, a resident of the community and its neighborhood watch captain, is currently on trial for Martin’s death though he maintains he acted in self-defense.
Records obtained by Judicial Watch in response to local, state and federal public records requests show that the so-called peacekeepers are part of a large and growing division within DOJ called the Community Relations Service (CRS). Though CRS purports to spot and quell racial tensions nationwide before they arise, the documents obtained by Judicial Watch show the group actively worked to foment unrest, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel and hotel rooms to train protestors throughout Florida. The peacekeepers also met with officials of the Republican National Convention, scheduled for several months later in Tampa, to warn them to expect protests in connection with Martin’s death.
- CRS employee spent $1,142.84 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 25-28, 2012 “to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies”;
- CRS employee spent $751.60 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 30-April 1, 2012 “to provide technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31”;
- CRS employee spent $1,307.40 to travel to Sanford, Florida from April 3-12, 2012 “to provide technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford”;
- CRS employee spent $672.24 to travel to Tampa, Florida from April 18-20, 2012 “to meet with RNC official related to possible protests and demonstrations during the RNC”
From a Florida Sunshine Law request filed on April 23, 2012, JW received thousands of pages of emails on April 27, 2012, in which was found an email by Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board Program Officer Amy Carswell from April 16, 2012: “Congratulations to our partners, Thomas Battles, Regional Director, and Mildred De Robles, Miami-Dade Coordinator and their co-workers at the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service for their outstanding and ongoing efforts to reduce tensions and build bridges of understanding and respect in Sanford, Florida.”
For additional background and reference:
April 17, 2012: Who are the Peacekeepers?
April 10, 2012: “Dream Defenders” block entrance to Sanford Police Dept.
March 31, 2012: Narrative of Martin-Zimmerman dispute