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Black residents in Mississippi terrorized by police

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Black residents in a Mississippi town filed a lawsuit detailing allegations of local police systematically ‘terrorizing’ them.

The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by a civil rights organization, JULIAN, claims the Lexington Police Department was involved in numerous incidents where Black residents were falsely arrested, subject to unreasonable searches, and victims of excessive use of force. Lexington is about an hour north of Jackson, Mississippi.

Dr. Rashad Richey, the host of “Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey”, has been following this story about the police chief from the start.

“To contextualize this, this police department is very small. This city this community is not a huge community,” said Richey on his show, which broadcasts on at 2:30 p.m. EST on weekdays.

According to the complaint obtained by the Washington Post, over 200 black residents have lobbied for either formal or informal complaints involving negative interactions with the Lexington Police Department.

The lawsuit further alleges violations of residents’ First, Fourth, and 14th Amendment rights, reported Anoa Changa, on News One.

“The complaint outlines instances of roadblocks near Black communities and Black high schools during school-held events […] Several specific incidents of retaliatory arrest and detentions of multiple Black residents are noted on the record,” reported Changa.

The organization, JULIAN, is seeking a temporary restraining order against the Lexington police department. They’re demanding protection for the town’s Black residents. According to Data USA, which tracks census data, Black or African-Americans make up nearly 85% of the population in the city, in 2019.

The lawsuit comes after JULIAN said it obtained an audio recording in July of then-Lexington Police Chief Sam Dobbins. Dobbins is heard using racial slurs and talking about how many people he had killed in the line of duty.

In the recording, which Richey played for listeners on “The Rashad Richey Morning Show,” Dobbins appears to say he’s killed 13 people during his career. He also is heard using expletives repeatedly to describe people. At one point, he appears to use the n-word when referencing someone he said he shot 119 times.

“Former Chief Sam Dobbins, whom we heard boasting about killing 13 people while on duty, including a Black person. [He] said he shot that n-word 119 times. He was named in the complaint for a different incident,” said Richey. “Now remember, [Dobbins] is talking to a Black cop and saying I shot that n-word. And he proceeds to tell you what he did. He also said he has covered up murders for other cops. He said all of this while being recorded.”

Dobbins denied using the racial slur, according to Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, which first reported the story.

“Why isn’t that police chief on the criminal investigation,” asked Richey. “He has admitted to covering up murders. He has said he shot 13 people. We need to know who. He also said he shot that n-word 119 times proving that he had a bias in the assault against that individual. Where is the investigation? Community residents are saying this is normative behavior of that police department. Well, obviously it is, look at the leadership.”

The town’s interim police chief, Charles Henderson, contested the allegations in response to an email request for comment from The Associated Press.

“I’m working on moving the Lexington Police Department forward,” Henderson said to The Associated Press. “I will say, don’t buy into everything you hear. This is defamation of character.”

According to News One, community residents also told the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting that Dobbins replacement was not much better. Jill Collen Jefferson, president and founder of JULIAN, also said from her conversations with the residents, that little has changed since Dobbins was fired.

Henderson doesn’t have a clean track record with the city. He was named in the complaint and allegedly previously propositioned about 12 women for sex. When they refused, he gave them a ticket and arrested them, reported Kayode Crowne, with the One of whom, spent three months in detention, reported Crowne.

According to the Washington Post, the suit requests unspecified compensatory damages and asks the court to require Lexington to establish an independent civilian complaint review board that would investigate complaints from the public against the police department for abuse of authority.

Plaintiff Eric Redmond, who’s a former law enforcement officer, described an incident involving Dobbins and other police officers, reported Changa. According to that complaint reported on by News One, Redmond went to the station to post bail for his sister, only to learn her bail amount had nearly tripled without explanation.

“Redmond reportedly wanted a reason for the change in bail and was instead met with aggressive action from the arresting officer, at the behest of Dobbins,” reported Changa.

The city’s lawmakers also allegedly have been involved in other incidents. Richey said on his show, that the mayor of the community, Robin McCrory, was arrested in 2006 for assault. The mayor and the city clerk allegedly engaged in physical combat during the dispute over voided checks. But no judge, no trial date was ever set.

“It simply disappears,” said Richey. “Once again, these individuals work for the community of Lexington, the taxpayers. Those are the people you’re accountable to Mr. and Ms. police officer. You have failed to realize the first dynamic duty that you have to serve. Not to lord over, not to be dictator, but to serve.”

Yasmin Aliya Kahn, the host of Global Thread Podcast, called for deeper dialogue on the targetted bias facing many Black communities on ‘Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey’.

“It’s disheartening when we live in a country that’s supposed to be the epitome of democracy, the biggest success story of democracy that the planet has ever seen,” said Kahn. “But it’s still so hard for the masses to have their voices heard without getting drowned out by a horrible select few and well-placed positions in government. And we pretend that we’re better than every other country in the world, that our problems are different from the ones that they have.”

Kahn said this community and communities across the country need to do better, be better.

“But we won’t be until we actually start talking about these problems that we have plainly, without denying that they exist, even like we can’t even get people to admit that these problems exist in this country. And we have to be able to talk about it without worrying about who feels uncomfortable about it. Because uncomfortability is not more important than actual lives that are being impacted by people like this,” said Kahn.

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