In case there were any doubts left about the rampant racism that infects our police forces, the Southern Poverty Law Center shared a shocking report from the Alabama Justice Project, who discovered that law officers in Dothan, Alabama, have been planting drugs and weapons on black suspects for years – and hundreds are still in prison on false charges. The explosive evidence has been brought forward by other police officers, who believe that “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 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. They hope the mood of the country is one that demands action and that the US Department of Justice will intervene.”
The whistle-blowing officers have even said they are willing to testify against their corrupt comrades, who were apparently members of a neo-Confederate organization that called “for blacks to return to Africa, published that the civil rights movement is really a Jewish conspiracy, and that blacks have lower IQ’s.” The leaked files also reveal that an Internal Affairs investigation into the matter was silenced by the Attorney General’s office: “all were aware of the investigation and its outcome. All have been rewarded with careers in law enforcement by those for whom they covered, while those who spoke out were forced out of the department. Disturbingly, Ott and Parrish have both attended the FBI academy. Both were highly recommended by the district attorney and former Police Chief, John White.”
These are shocking and terrifying revelations. If this is just one police force in one Alabaman town, who knows where else this has been going on? It’s a staggering, decades-long cover-up of the systematic targeting of African-Americans for incarceration, a damning indictment both of our law enforcement agencies and the accountability mechanisms that are supposed to be in check. Following on the heels of the deeply disturbing LaQuan McDonald shooting footage, this could finally prompt the national conversation on policing and race that the right-wing has been virulently resisting and discrediting over the past few months. Coming from police officers themselves, the “Blue Lives Matter” crowd no longer have any legs to stand on.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.