ACLU Lawsuit Claims Black People in Madison County, Mississippi Are ‘Under a Permanent State of Siege’

It was 7 a.m. last June when six sheriff’s deputies stormed into the Manning family home in Canton, Miss., according to a new lawsuit. They demanded that the Mannings sign witness statements for a crime in their neighborhood they claimed not to have seen. 

When Khadafy Manning, 35, refused, deputies allegedly handcuffed, choked and beat the man, who uses a cane because of a nerve condition. They called him “Mr. Cripple,” his wife said, and proceeded to drag him out of the house, down the stairs and into a patrol car, beating him until he wrote a witness statement.

Khadafy and Quinnetta Manning are among those suing the sheriff’s department in Madison County, claiming the department used unconstitutional checkpoints, unlawful searches of homes, and excessive force as part of what they call “a coordinated top-down program” to illegally target black residents.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, seeks a court order to stop the sheriff’s department from using such tactics. It also asks that a civilian board review complaints against the department. Ten black residents — men and women ages 27 to 62 — are plaintiffs in the case.

Some black residents are so afraid of being pulled over or stopped at a checkpoint that they avoid leaving their homes, the lawsuit says.

“In effect the policing program has placed the Black community of Madison County under a permanent state of siege,” the lawsuit states.

Sheriff Randy Tucker, who is white and has been in office since 2012, would not immediately comment Monday because he had not seen the lawsuit, spokesman Heath Hall told the Associated Press.

“For decades, black people in Madison County have been dealing with the constant barrage by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department,” ACLU Mississippi executive director Jennifer Riley-Collins said at a news conference Monday at the ACLU office in Jackson.

Roughly 57 percent of Madison County residents are white, and about 38 percent are black, the most recent Census estimates show. Home to about 105,000 people, it ranks as the wealthiest county in Mississippi. Per capita income in 2015 was just shy of $58,000, according to the state department of employment security.

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Source: The Washington Post | Samantha Schmidt, Derek Hawkins