Mississippi county police sued for systematically targeting black residents

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on Monday against the sheriff’s department of Madison County, Mississippi, stating that the police systematically targeted black residents and often subjected them to unconstitutional searches and brutality.

This has left the community “under a permanent state of siege,” according to the lawsuit, which accuses the department of abusing its power in order to continue a system of oppression and segregation in the richest county in Mississippi.

“For Black residents, Madison County is a Constitution-free zone where their right to equal protection under the law and against unreasonable searches and seizures is nonexistent,” Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement.

— Two ACLU lawyers say bar kicked them out because they were black — 

According to the suit, the MCSD engaged in such behavior as setting up “checkpoints” around black neighborhoods to carry out “intrusive, pretextual, and suspicionless searches and seizures.”

“Passing through these unconstitutionally intrusive roadblocks is fraught with the potential for harassment, intimidation, demeaning searches, baseless citations, and possibly even arrest and subsequent incarceration,” the suit stated.

Ten plaintiffs are named in the suit, which details such mistreatment as homes being raided without warrants, repeated roadblocks, and two plaintiffs who claimed to have been severely beaten by police.

“The Madison County Sheriff’s Department’s policing program has a long history of treating Black people differently and targeting them for baseless, invasive, and often violent police stops,” Riley-Collins said. “These practices force thousands of people to live in fear and under constant threat of being subject to suspicionless searches and arrests simply because of the color of their skin.”