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By Amber Randall
Mississippi police officers have placed black residents “under siege” for years through a series of roadblocks, pedestrian stops and random house searches, a lawsuit filed Monday argues.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of ten black Madison County residents, reports Reason. The lawsuit alleges Madison County Sheriff’s Department have enacted years of a series of racially discriminatory policing against the county’s black residents through its “Policing Program.”
“The Sheriff’s Department of Madison County, Mississippi (“MCSD”) implements a coordinated top-down program of methodically targeting Black individuals for suspicionless searches and seizures while they are driving their cars, walking in their neighborhoods, or even just spending time in their own homes (the “Policing Program”),” according to the lawsuit.
Some of these practices include setting up “vehicular roadblocks” in predominantly black communities with sheriff’s deputies waiting in unmarked cars to search black drivers. This practice is often used as a way to collect more money for the county as officers will check if drivers have court fees, the lawsuit alleges.
The sheriff’s department also searches the homes of black residents without search warrants, often abusing the people that live there, the lawsuit states. In one instance, six deputies entered the house of two plaintiffs named in the suit. The officers allegedly tried to force one plaintiff to write a false statement against someone. When he refused, the officers allegedly attacked and choked him, according to the lawsuit.
Combined together, these practices have left black residents living in a state of fear and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.
“As a result, many Black residents of Madison County experience chronic fear and anxiety, disruptions to their everyday activities, restrictions on travel within their own neighborhoods and towns, and a tremendous reluctance to contact law enforcement officials for assistance when necessary,” the lawsuit alleges.
Neither Madison County nor the Sheriff’s Department returned The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.