Black people in a racially segregated county in Mississippi are living under a permanent state of siege, subjected to repeated unlawful and humiliating searches at police roadblocks, at pedestrian “checkpoints” and even in their homes, according to a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
In a complaint lodged with a federal court on Monday, the ACLU paints a devastating picture of systematic racial discrimination by the sheriff’s department of Madison County. The nonpartisan group says the abuses have gone on for decades, in tune with a history of constitutional violations that can be traced in an unbroken line back to the civil rights era.
The encroachment on African Americans’ rights covers almost every aspect of daily life, the ACLU complaint says: walking or driving to work, shopping for groceries, visiting friends and family, going to church, or sitting on the stoops of houses. The lawsuit alleges that the level of police scrutiny enshrined in the sheriff department’s “policing program” is so overbearing that black residents suffer chronic fear and anxiety, with some afraid to leave their homes.
“In effect, the policing program has placed the black community of Madison County under a permanent state of siege,” the ACLU states. (The Guardian UK)