FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JACKSON, MS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi today announced it’s support for the work of Faye Peterson, Hinds County District Attorney, in investigating allegations that Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has been systematically violating the civil rights of city residents. According to reports from local individuals, Mayor Melton has violated the civil rights of Jacksonians through warrantless searches of homes, vehicles and persons and by violating the due process rights of persons detained and/or accused of crimes.
“We’re also concerned about “abuse of power” issues by the Jackson Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in the metro area,” said Nsombi Lambright, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Furthermore, we’re encouraging citizens who feel that their rights have been violated during a traffic stop or in their neighborhoods to file complaints with the appropriate law enforcement agency, the ACLU office, the FBI, local and state NAACP chapters and/or the Attorney General’s office. It’s important that these issues are well documented in order for significant reform to take place.”
After receiving numerous complaints from Jackson residents, the ACLU of Mississippi sought information about alleged abuses by the Mayor and law enforcement officers. Complaints hold that the Mayor has created an environment where racial profiling is accepted, due process is ignored, searches are conducted illegally and police brutality is commonplace.
Examples of the Mayor’s reprehensible behavior include impersonating an officer, bringing teenagers to ride in a police mobile unit from which the Mayor illegally participates in law enforcement activities, and his plans to reinstate officers who were fired for beating a handcuffed young man. All of these incidents have been directed at African Americans, leading to concern about racial profiling.
“No law can be successfully enforced by breaking the law,” Lambright said. “Yet that is exactly what the Mayor seeks to do through his illegal and unfounded tactics.”
In response to these concerns, the ACLU, along with the NAACP and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement will be conducting a series of Know Your Rights meetings and trainings in neighborhoods to educate citizens about their rights and to encourage citizens to monitor law enforcement activity in their communities.