In remarks today at the U.S. Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. called Saturday's shooting in Arizona an "unspeakable tragedy" and said threats and acts of violence against public officials continue to be a source of concern.
Holder, in a speech celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said the gunfire that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed Chief Judge John Roll, along with five others, was a “senseless and shameful” act that shows “our world has yet to run its course of cruelty.”
“Without question, threats against public officials—whatever form they take—continue to be cause for concern and vigilance,” Holder said in prepared remarks. “But I do not believe that these threats are as strong as the forces working for tolerance and peace.”
Holder is planning to travel to Atlanta on Sunday and Monday to address the audience at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was co-pastor with his father. On Monday Holder is scheduled to speak at a center in Atlanta that is named in King’s honor.
Yesterday, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia described Roll, the top federal judge in Arizona since 2006, as “one of the most fair-minded chief judges anywhere in the country.”
Lamberth, chairman of the inter-circuit assignment committee from 2003 to 2008, said Roll “was always looking out for his colleagues and how he could get justice dispensed better in Arizona.” Roll, Lamberth said, sought to get judges from around the country to sit in Arizona to help alleviate the growing caseload there.
“I thought he was an extraordinary judge and a stand-out among chief judges,” Lamberth said.
Lamberth called the Tucson shooting “alarming” and said it gives pause to whether federal judges and elected officials should make public appearances without security. Absent a specific threat, Lamberth said, federal judges do not typically have security escorts at public events.