The U.S. Department of Justice recently initiated a #civilrights investigation into Lexington, #Mississippi, and its police department due to concerning potential violations of federal and constitutional laws. The inquiry, prompted by reports of excessive force, alleged sexual assault, and a purported pattern of racism and police brutality, centers on the city's law enforcement practices.
Situated approximately an hour away from Jackson, Lexington holds a population of around 1,600 residents, predominantly comprising 80% Black individuals, served by a police force with fewer than 10 officers.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized that the number of officers doesn't exempt scrutiny, citing national statistics showing that many police departments are similarly sized. Clarke underscored the DOJ's commitment to safeguarding the rights of all Americans, irrespective of their community's size.
"According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, half of America's police departments have 10 officers or fewer," Clarke said in a news statement. "The Justice Department is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans, whether they live in small towns or big cities."
The probe stems from distressing incidents, including the removal of former Police Chief Sam Dobbins following the release of a racist recording attributed to him. A civil rights group, JULIAN, filed a lawsuit alleging systemic racism and advocating for a federal investigation into police brutality on behalf of Black residents.
Allegations against the Lexington Police Department encompass unwarranted stops, excessive use of force, biased roadblocks targeting Black drivers, and retaliatory actions against individuals documenting police conduct. Notably, attorney Jill Collen Jefferson's arrest while filming a traffic stop further escalated tensions after she had previously raised concerns with the DOJ regarding unfair treatment of the Black community.
The allegations of excessive force, racism, and police brutality in Lexington are deeply troubling and resonate with the broader struggles faced by marginalized communities across the country.
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Link: Justice Department