Mark Dupree, a Kansas prosecutor who was hired to work on Donald Trump’s controversial law enforcement task force, has left the position, informing U.S. Attorney General William Barr that he was “deeply offended by a political agenda to divide rather than build.”
He also worried the commission wouldn’t “acknowledge the systemic racism in our justice system.”
Dupree, who serves as Wyandotte County District Attorney and is the only Black D.A. in his state, said he joined the task force in hopes of bringing together perspectives in order to create a better relationship between the community and police, according to The Huffington Post.
“Unfortunately, that excitement and joy was replaced with disappointment and concern with a process that left too many important voices out and one that completely lacked transparency,” Dupree wrote in a letter to Barr.
Dupree continued: “I have yet to hear whether the Commission’s final report intends to adequately address the racial equity issues millions are pleading with us to reckon with, nor am I confident that the Commission’s recommendations will acknowledge the systemic racism in our justice system — these issues are fundamental to earning the trust of people of color in this country.”
Dupree claims the task force, like Trump’s presidency, is focused on dividing rather than trying to bring people together and having a better understanding about one another.
“Instead, and more troubling, the Commission appears to be intent on exploiting the divisions that exist in this country,” he wrote. “Other commission members and I were not given access to read the full report and final recommendations. I cannot in good faith sign my name to a document if I have no idea what the final document actually advocates.”
Dupree added: “As the first and only African American elected District Attorney in the state of Kansas, as well as a reform-minded prosecutor who focuses on being smart on crime and using a holistic approach to justice, I am deeply offended by a political agenda to divide rather than build. This report will perpetuate the harms of the war on drugs, which was a war on people of color, rather than move our country toward equity.”
A Justice Department spokesperson said they had received Mr. Dupree’s letter and respected his request. “He was a valuable member of the working group on Reentry Programs and Initiatives and made important contributions to the Commission’s work,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson did not say when the report would be issued.
Earlier this year, Prosecutor John Choi quit a commission task force and voiced similar concerns about the Trump task force’s agenda.
Miriam Krinsky, executive director of the progressive prosecutors’ group Fair and Just Prosecution, said the commission “missed a vital and timely opportunity to bring new thinking to the vision of policing” in America.
Donald Trump has long attempted to strip any aspect of acknowledging racism in policing. In September, he banned racial bias training in law enforcement across America, calling it “Anti-American propaganda.” He also described critical race theory as “toxic.”