JACKSON, Mississippi — If there is one state in the Union that’s practically synonymous with the horrid history of heinous racism and bloodshed in America, it’s Mississippi.
No one, however, ever felt that the era of Jim Crowism, hangings and shootings would still echo today in 2017.
A federal lawsuit says law enforcement officers in one majority-White Mississippi county are unfairly targeting Black people for traffic stops and searches of homes and property without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Madison County Sheriff’s Office for their egregious and frightening violation of the rights of 10 Black men and women, Reuters reports.
The men and women range from ages 27 to 62 and represent the plaintiffs in the case. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs say they were illegally searched, detained, or arrested by county sheriff’s officials while commuting to work, driving in their neighborhoods, or spending time at home.
“These practices force thousands of people to live in fear and under constant threat of being subject to suspicion-less searches and arrests simply because of the color of their skin,” Jennifer Collins, ACLU of Mississippi’s executive director, said in a statement.
The citizens of Madison County recounted numerous incidents where officers forced their way into homes, imprisoned them and beat them until they offered false witness testimony and more.
The civil rights group posted a video on Twitter recorded by one local resident, Quinnetta Manning, as officers questioned her and her handicapped husband in their home.
Manning, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said Madison County deputies forced their way in, handcuffed, choked and beat her husband, and threatened the couple with jail if they did not give false witness statements.
She told the ACLU that the officers’ abuse embarrassed her husband and made both of them “feel less than American.”