ACLU sues Madison County Sheriff’s Department, claims unfair treatment towards Blacks

The ACLU holds a news conference about the lawsuilt they filed against the Madison County Sheriff's Dept. (Photo: WJTV)

MADISON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi says the Madison County Sheriff’s Department is targeting African Americans.

The ACLU said Madison County deputies are using unconstitutional methods during arrests and Monday they took their lawsuit to federal court.

They held a news conference about the lawsuit they filed on Monday.

“I don’t feel safe in my own home because the Madison County Sheriff’s “Department violated my safe place, my freedom of speech and my right as an American citizen,” said Quinnetta Manning, who is one of the 10 complainants who feel the sheriff’s deputies targetted and harassed her because of the color of her skin.

She recorded video of officers that she said came into her home without consent and forced her and her husband to write false statements about a burglary.

When they refused, she says deputies attacked her husband.
“I don’t feel I can go to the police if I need their help because they have always treated me like I’ve done something wrong,” Manning said.

Steven Smith is another Madison County resident who says he was targetted during a traffic stop.

“After searching me and digging through my pockets they didn’t find anything but ordered me to give them my ID when they ran my ID they saw that I owed a county fine and arrested and jailed me,” Smith said.

Attorney John Youngwood says law enforcement is targeting African Americans with road blocks, checkpoints, home searches and jump out patrols.

“Policing is very important this case is not about saying anything other than that policing is very important but it’s also important that it be done correctly and in accordance with the law and the constitution,” he said.

Wth this lawsuit the ACLU is asking for the federal court system to issue an injunction to stop these alleged practices. They also want to create a Civilian Complaint Review Board along with improved training and monitoring for deputies.

“Generally police officers do the right thing but what’s important here is setting the standard so that they treat all citizens in the community here in Madison county equally and fairly and in accordance with the constitution,” Youngwood said.

WJTV 12 reached out to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office about the lawsuit. Monday afternoon, the department’s spokesperson Heath Hall said that the sheriff hadn’t been served the lawsuit yet, so he is not able to comment.

Read the full lawsuit here.

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