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Renegade Police in Rural Alabama Accused of Mass False Arrests of Hundreds of Black Youths

Many of your local police officers may be dressing like this when they are off duty. (Photo by Jamie Davies)
Many of your local police officers may be dressing like
this when they are off duty. (Photo by Jamie Davies)
By Steven Rosenfeld
Another explosive report of institutional racism by white police and prosecutors who willfully targeted black youths has emerged from one of the most remote regions of Alabama, the deep southeastern city of Dothan, where for years a handful of officers apparently planted drugs on hundreds of black youths and railroaded them into prison.

The documentary trail of these arrests dating back to the late 1990s and a subsequent coverup by high-ranking county law enforcement officials was first reported on HenryCountyReport.com. Reporter Jon B. Carroll describes how a handful of powerful officers and prosecutors targeted the youths for several years:

A group of up to a dozen police officers on a specialized narcotics team were found to have planted drugs and weapons on young black men for years. They were supervised at the time by Lt. Steve Parrish, current Dothan Police Chief, and Sgt. Andy Hughes, current director of Homeland Security for the state of Alabama. All of the officers reportedly were members of a neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels “racial extremists." The group has advocated for blacks to return to Africa, published that the Civil Rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQs.

Carroll reports that other Dothan police officers filed anonymous complaints with the city manager’s office and police commission in this isolated city of 66,000 people. However, the ensuing investigation apparently went nowhere, prompting them to write an anonymous letter to the region’s U.S. attorney in 2004. The officers, frustated that nothing came of the internal police investigations, provided copies of their letters and other police memos documenting the arrests, allegations and apparent coverup, Carroll said:

Several long-term Dothan law enforcement officers, all part of an original group that initiated the investigation, believe the public has a right to know that the Dothan Police Department and District Attorney Doug Valeska targeted young black men by planting drugs and weapons on them [for] over a decade. Most of the young men were prosecuted, many sentenced to prison, and some are still in prison. Many of the officers involved were subsequently promoted and are in leadership positions in law enforcement.

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