Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s pick for a new U.S. Attorney General, is known for being tough on crime, even when prosecuting the police. It could be just what the Obama administration needs in light of the ongoing troubles over what’s seen as police brutality in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
There’s no word on when the Senate might confirm Lynch, a 55-year-old two term federal prosecutor in Brooklyn.
During her time in that position, the New York Daily News reports that Loretta handled the prosecution of a highly sensitive alleged NYPD brutality case of a Haitian immigrant named Abner Louima. In her new position, Lynch would oversee a probe into the Brown case.
The Louima case was a highly racially-charged moment in the life of New York City in the 1990s. NYPD officers had been accused of beating and sodomizing him. According to an account from The New York Times, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson worked under Loretta Lynch at the time of the case as a young federal prosecutor.
Thompson told the Times that he recalls Lynch handling the Louima case deftly, showing that she has nerves of steel under immense pressure and was more than willing to work in the background. The parallels to the Ferguson case are undeniable — Louima was black and the police officers were white.
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, little is known about her background. Loretta has talked publicly about some of her ancestors, though, including her great-great-grandfather who was free and re-entered the bonds of slavery to marry her great-great-grandmother, a slave. Her grandfather was a sharecropper, pastor, and helped blacks in the Jim Crow south falsely accused. Lynch’s dad was also a pastor and a civil rights activist who picked cotton in high school.
During the Louima trial in New York, Lynch is remembered as a skilled prosecutor who deftly handled the sensitive case from beginning to end. The case culminated with Loretta Lynch and her team being able to declare victory as one of the police officers received a 30-year sentence and another was convicted of assault and civil rights violations.
Loretta Lynch has been chosen by Obama before, as her position as a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District in 2010 was also a presidentially-appointed job. The district covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island.
NYPD’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, told the Daily News that Lynch is the right woman for the job.
“Loretta Lynch is a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice,” said Bratton.
[Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza]