By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on December 13, 2020
When President-elect Joe Biden assumes office on January 20, 2021, he should immediately fire all three U.S. Attorneys in Alabama and their First Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Biden can designate career prosecutors to Alabama’s Northern, Middle and Southern judicial districts until his permanent U.S. Attorneys are appointed and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
For the most part, the individuals appointed to these positions in Alabama during President Donald J. Trump’s single term in office are political hacks who used their official positions to resurrect, implement and oversee the Department of Justice’s documented COINTELPRO program that targets black civil rights activists and political dissidents for harassment, persecution, and prosecution on trumped-up charges in pro-prosecution courts.
COINTELPRO activities are rampant in all three federal judicial districts in Alabama. On January 21, 2020, we highlighted a clear case of COINTELPRO conduct by the Alabama Middle District U.S. Attorney’s Office in an article titled, “God Wears a Robe – Part 3: Railroading Alabama Attorney Christopher Pitts”. The article detailed the Department of Justice’s blatant and unforgivable racism and selective prosecution of Christopher Pitts.
A “De Facto” U.S. Attorney
COINTELPRO activities are more acute in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama. Since 2017, the office has been run by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd Peeples. Even though President Trump appointed Jay Town as the U.S. Attorney in 2017, Town never moved from Huntsville to Birmingham to run the operations from the office’s Birmingham headquarters. Instead, Town simply collected the executive salary for the job and handed over operations control to Peeples, who became the “de facto” U.S. Attorney.
Lloyd Peeples comes from a family with a history of discrimination against black people. Peeples' father was a Dothan, Alabama businessman who held extremely negative racial views toward African-Americans. Peeple’s family sent him to a private academy in Marietta, Georgia that was established as a haven for white children whose parents opposed court-ordered desegregation of public schools. In college, Peeples wrote and published articles in his college newspaper that highly criticized the University’s efforts to increase its enrollment of women and minorities.
Prior to joining Jay Town, Peeples ran a struggling pizza restaurant in a Birmingham suburb. Before that, Peeples served a short and lackluster stint as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under George Bush-appointee Alice Martin.
A Sanctuary for Modern-Day Racism
The Jay Town/Lloyd Peeples duo found a sanctuary within the halls of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. This court has long served as a citadel in Alabama for the unfair treatment of black civil litigants and criminal defendants. The court was an original participant in the DOJ’s formal COINTELPRO program.
In 1980, the judges of the Northern District court tried in vain to block the appointment and confirmation of longtime civil rights attorney U. W. Clemon to the federal bench. Clemon prevailed and became the first black federal judge in Alabama. Later, several of Clemon’s colleagues on the Northern District bench worked behind the scenes to have Judge Clemon indicted on trumped-up federal wire and mail fraud charges in 1996. This racist attempt was unsuccessful as well.
A couple of these federal judges regularly referred to Black lawyers and their African American clients as “niggers” in their conversations with law clerks, in handwritten notes passed between the judges and their law clerks, and in closed door court proceedings.
During his first stint in the U.S. Attorney’s office, Peeples reportedly despised Clemon, who eventually served as the Chief Judge of the Court before retiring in 2009.
While serving as First Assistant U.S. Attorney and “de facto” U.S. Attorney, Peeples began to resurrect, implement, and oversee the modern-day version of COINTELPRO in the Northern District. Everything in his life has prepared Peeples for this throwback COINTELPRO assignment.
If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sincere in their stated goal of promoting social justice in America, the best place to start is by purging the Trump-era COINTELPRO prosecutors in Alabama as soon as the new administration assumes office. There is no place in the federal criminal justice system for political hacks in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Alabama who get off on railroading blacks as a white supremacy sporting event.
Because most federal judges in Alabama coddle new-era COINTELPRO prosecutors, Biden and Harris will have to remediate and police this embedded racism from Washington.
Jay Town left the U.S. Attorney’s Office on his own in 2020. Biden and Harris must send Peeples and his kind to that special place where Southerners keep their Confederate flags, Civil War monuments, Alabama Sovereignty Commission files, COINTELPRO records, “Good Ol’ Boys Roundup memorabilia and memories of defeated despots.
PHOTO: Lloyd Peeples ran a "Your Pie" pizza restaurant in Homewood, Alabama before he took over the U.S. Attorneys Office in Birmingham in October 2017.