Civil rights organizers demand Miss. AG charge Rankin Co. deputies, investigate sheriff

Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 5:48 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Civil rights organizers gathered outside of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at noon on Wednesday, calling for justice for the alleged abuse of Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker by law enforcement in Rankin County.

They claimed that the incident is the latest evidence of systemic racism perpetuated by the county’s law enforcement.

“The systematic issues of law enforcement in Rankin County didn’t just occur on January 24, 2023. People in this county and all over the state of Mississippi have been reporting police brutality long before that incident,” said Priscilla Williams-Till, family member of Emmett Till and founder of the Emmett Till Justice for Families Foundation. “The Rankin County police have engaged in a pattern of conduct that has violated the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

The setting of the meeting was specifically chosen in response to the alleged refusal of Attorney General Lynn Fitch to meet with the activists and hear their demands.

“I’ve been calling all morning, been emailing her all week, trying to meet with her at the table of peace to see what she’s going to do, because she has the power,” said John C. Barnett, founder of civil rights organization True Healing Under God.

Barnett claimed that when, in previous cases of police brutality, the involved law enforcement officials only faced termination from their jobs and not criminal charges, officials with a history of misconduct could find employment at different law enforcement offices and continue their abuse without real consequences for their actions.

In this case, Barnett alleges that firing deputies accused of abuse in this case is not enough.

“The next step is to charge, and the next step is to take their certification so they can’t work anywhere else,” said Barnett.

In addition, the organizers accused Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey of operating a “criminal police department that tortures Black people and American citizens,” demanding that he face investigation by the Department of Justice.

In a press conference last week, Sheriff Bailey stated that his department has “cooperated with all investigation efforts related to this incident and have provided all information and data requested in a timely manner.”

“I’m asking that the Department of Justice open up an investigation on the sheriff, the ‘head honcho,’ so to speak,” said Barnett. “It’s obvious that Sheriff Bailey has been conducting business as usual and it is our responsibility to shut down his business.”

WLBT reached out to the Attorney General’s office for a comment following Wednesday’s protest. A spokesperson tells us the AG’s office does not comment on ongoing investigations.

We also reached out to the attorney representing the sheriffs department for a comment, and are still waiting to hear back.

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