July 25, 2013
By Xavier Higgs
LAWT Contributing Writer
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr. spoke about his role at the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles to the Black Journalists Association of Southern California last Saturday, while discussing the George Zimmerman case, national security and alternative sentencing.
Birotte, the state’s top law enforcement official, spent about 50 minutes with the group taking questions about initiatives that would reduce the rate of recidivism, or former inmates returning to prison after they've been released.
He reminded the group that one of his objectives is to be responsive to the needs of the community. But foremost is national security. It is the number one priority in the department of justice.
The U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California gets a briefing every Monday morning from the head of our national security section.
It’s my wake call,” says Birotte. .“It reminds me of why we are here and what issues throughout the district. They are the unsung heroes of the office,” said Birotte.
Though Birotte didn’t get into specifics of the George Zimmerman Second Degree murder trial, he focused on the Trayvon Martin tragedy in terms of how it’s creating negative emotions in the people.
“I was struck by the lack of understanding as to why people might be upset at the result,” says Birotte. “I am not in a position to criticize the verdict. But I am in a position to understand the emotions the verdict. It brings back all of the emotions I felt as a young person.”
Optimistically, he hoped that there would continue to be dialogue about the criminal justice and why we need to have diversity in the judicial system
He also stressed the Justice Department’s challenges in bringing civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
My hope is that we can continue to have dialogue. It reminds me of
As Birotte spoke there were no doubt of his comfort and respect of the journalists in the room.
With a smile he asked, “who would have thought that this state would have an Attorney General, Los Angeles District Attorney, and the U.S. Attorney for Central District of California all being African American.”