Human rights

Civil rights organization takes legal action against Mississippi city officials after they fire police chief’s alleged racist and homophobic remarks

By Virginia Langmaid, CNN

A civil rights and human rights organization has filed a lawsuit against officials in Lexington, Mississippi over alleged racist and homophobic remarks by a now fired police chief, and what The plaintiffs allege targets the behavior of the police department.

The lawsuit was filed “to demand protection for Lexington’s predominantly black population from the very police department that ostensibly exists to keep them safe but in reality has terrorized residents,” according to a press release from JULIAN, the advocacy organization involved.

In July, former Lexington Police Chief Sam Dobbins was fired over a leaked audio recording. In the audio, according to the lawsuit, Dobbins can be heard using racial and homophobic slurs. Dobbins was a white leader in a predominantly black town.

Dobbins told the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, which first reported the audio leak story, that he was unaware of a recording and denied using slurs, saying “I don’t don’t talk like that.”

“The Lexington Police Department (LPD) operates in a culture of corruption and lawlessness, daily and habitually subjecting black citizens to harassment and brutality, in violation of their constitutional rights,” the lawsuit filed Tuesday reads.

The lawsuit alleges “relentless targeting and brutality” by the LPD toward the city’s black community, including the arrest of two plaintiffs named in the lawsuit following a meeting about LPD practices.

The lawsuit argues that Charles Henderson, who replaced Dobbins as acting police chief, “assisted defendant Dobbins in carrying out the department’s targeting, harassment and abuse of black citizens of Lexington” .

“Further, based on information and belief, Defendant Dobbins was fired in title only and continues to threaten black citizens of Lexington, patrolling the passenger seat of a police-issued vehicle with an officer service,” the lawsuit alleges.

CNN has contacted the city of Lexington and the Lexington Police Department for comment.

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