ACLU Challenges Madison County Sheriff’s Department’s systematic targeting of Black residents for unconstitutional, and often violent, searches and seizures
Madison County deputies routinely subject Black residents to suspicionless stops, searches, and seizures, using show-ID checkpoints, roadblocks, ‘jump outs,’ and home invasions
JACKSON, MISS. — The ACLU of Mississippi, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP filed a class-action lawsuit today against the Madison County Sheriff’s Department over its unconstitutional policing program to systematically target Black people for illegal searches and seizures of persons, homes, and cars. The landmark lawsuit challenges the Madison County Sheriff’s Department’s coordinated, top-down program of selectively subjecting Black communities to unconstitutional policing tactics, including show-ID-and-search pedestrian checkpoints, roving roadblocks, “jump outs” by plainclothes deputies in unmarked cars, and warrantless home invasions.
The 10 named plaintiffs are Black people — men and women ages 27 to 62 — who were unconstitutionally searched, detained, or arrested by the MCSD, sometimes violently, while they were merely walking to work, driving in their neighborhood, celebrating with family, or just spending time in their own homes.
When Quinnetta Manning declined to allow the Madison County Sheriff’s Department into her family’s home, deputies forced their way inside and threatened her and her husband with jail time if they did not provide a false witness statement. When she refused and her husband told the deputies he knew his rights, they handcuffed and choked him in the middle of his living room. They called him “Crip” and “Mr. Cripple” because he is disabled and uses a cane to walk. They then dragged him down the stairs in his underwear and beat him until he submitted to writing the false statement. Terrified, Mrs. Manning did the same.
“I know that every American citizen has rights, but the Madison County police treated us like we didn’t have any rights,” said Mrs. Manning. “Taking my husband away from our home not only embarrassed him, but made us feel less than American. How can we show our children that we can protect them and keep them safe when the police can just come in my house whenever they want without cause? Now I’m scared to leave the house in fear of what may happen if I encounter the police.”