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Civil rights lawsuit pending against Lexington Police Department



A public interest law firm has sued the Lexington Police Department for alleged racial discrimination and has promised to bring a separate class action lawsuit against the City of Lexington and individual officers.

Last year, Sam Dobbins, the former chief of the Lexington Police Department, was fired due to leaked audio which allegedly captured him using racial slurs, in addition to telling one of his he wouldn't care if the officer “killed a m*therf**ker in cold blood,” and that he, himself, had killed 13 people in the line of duty.

Soon after the recording was released, JULIAN, a non-profit civil rights and international human rights organization, filed a lawsuit against the Lexington Police Department on behalf of five who claimed to be victims of mistreatment by officers.

Plaintiffs in the case are Robert Harris, Darius Harris, Eric Redmond, Malcolm Stewart, and Peter Reeves. The defendants are Dobbins, Charles Henderson, who replaced Dobbins as Interim Chief, the City of Lexington, and the Lexington Police Department.

“This country prohibits all public , including police officers, from discriminating against people on the basis of race,” the lawsuit states. “The City of Lexington, Mississippi, does not follow that law. Lexington Police Department (LPD) operates within a culture of corruption and lawlessness, and habitually subjecting Black citizens to harassment and brutality, in violation of their constitutional rights.”

Magnolia Tribune reached out to the Lexington Police Department for comment on the lawsuit, but was told the Department had no statement to make. We also reached out to the Attorney General's office for comment, but by press time had not received a response. It is not uncommon for a defendant in the position of the Lexington Police Department to withhold comment while litigation is pending. In response to the lawsuit, the defendants have denied the claims made against them.


According to the Complaint filed in the case, over 80% of Lexington's population of 1,800 is black. It adds that under the leadership of defendants Sam Dobbins and later Charles Henderson, “LPD has violated Black Lexington citizens' constitutional rights incessantly for over a year and continues to do so .”

The Complaint also alleges that throughout 2021 and 2022, “Plaintiffs and other Black Lexington citizens have been falsely arrested, forced to undergo baseless searches and seizures at roadblocks, and subjected to unreasonable force by LPD officers when they verbally object to police mistreatment.”

In Dobbins' Answer and Affirmative Defenses in response to the Complaint, he denied guilt of any actionable conduct and argued that the complaint should be dismissed.

Dobbins' Answer raises a qualified immunity defense. A controversial legal doctrine, qualified immunity acts as shield against claims of official misconduct when the official can show that the conduct was within the normal course and scope of employment. Qualified immunity can be breached in a civil rights action when a plaintiff can demonstrate that the conduct was outside the normal reasonable scope of that individual's employment.

Additionally, the City of Lexington, Mississippi, the Lexington Police Department, and Charles Henderson, in his individual and official capacities as Interim Chief of Police of Lexington, Mississippi, submitted an Answer and Affirmative Defenses on the same day as Dobbins. They also denied any potential liability in the case.


Jill Collen Jefferson, a civil rights and international human rights attorney and founder of JULIAN, spoke with the Magnolia Tribune about the ongoing lawsuit. She said that currently, the case is in discovery, which is the of exchanging “information between the parties about the witnesses and evidence they will present at trial.”

“This case came about because the police in this tiny town, Lexington, it's like 1,800 people, they've been terrorizing Black citizens,” Jefferson said. She claims that the police force arrested Black individuals for no reason, “beating them while they're win custody, constant road block where they're harassing people.”

Jefferson believes the matter is something that should be front page news every day, but because it's a small Mississippi town where there's largely a “media desert there,” she says no-one is paying attention.

“But this has been going on for about two years now, where the cops every single day have been terrorizing people,” Jefferson asserted. “This is the worst police crisis in this country in the last fifty years.”


Jefferson acknowledged that the LPD has denied the claims being made against them. She indicated that this pattern was part of the problem, suggesting that the town and its police force have accepted no responsibility for anything that has happened.

“People have tried to make complaints to the city government. They've made complaints to the police. Well, we also know that the police have thrown out complaints that have been given to them,” Jefferson stated.

She claimed that just a of weeks ago, one of the defendants “knocked out” one of the plaintiffs in broad day light in a store. According to the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, Malcolm Stewart claimed an officer assaulted him in retaliation for the lawsuit. Police Chief Charles Henderson disputed Stewart's accusation.

Jefferson said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) are both involved. They have reached out to the U.S. Commission for Civil Rights, as well as the State Auditor's Office over money that she says has been disappearing in Lexington. She mentioned her group has called in “everybody, every possible entity.” According to Jefferson, they had a conversation with the State Auditor's Office and haven't heard back from them yet, but the FBI is actively investigating the complaints.


“The Auditor's office cannot confirm or deny any potential or ongoing investigations,” said Fletcher Freeman, Communications Director at the Mississippi State Auditor's Office.

Jefferson said they will also be filing an additional suit against the town, a class action suit against the city and individual corrupt officers for the continued police abuse.

“We wanted to test the waters with this first suit. With the second suit it's going to be an all-out class action. So, we're also looking for plaintiffs for that now and we're just going to hammer them,” Jefferson stated. “We've pushed for policy changes as well. The Board of Alderman has rejected every single policy change we've put in front of them. Even one of the policy changes, it's to correct the law that's unconstitutional. Lexington has a city ordinance that says that you can arrest somebody if they curse at a police officer or a teacher. That's against the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

“We're going to keep pushing these policy changes and we'll also be suing them for these changes if we need to,” Jefferson continued.


“The current ordinances must change to address the community's concerns, improve quality of life, restore hope, and embrace unity – not just for the moment but for future generations,” Jefferson said. “This City has standards of governance that allow it to hire unfit police officers. There is no adequate process for addressing citizen complaints, which is a gross and dangerous lack of accountability.”

The post Civil rights lawsuit pending against Lexington Police Department appeared first on Magnolia Tribune.


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By: Anne Summerhays
Title: Civil rights lawsuit pending against Lexington Police Department

Published Date: Wed, 24 May 2023 20:47:15 +0000

Magnolia Tribune

History in the U.S. House: McCarthy ousted as Speaker



For the first time in U.S. history, the House has voted to remove the Speaker following a motion to vacate the chair. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats to oust Kevin McCarthy.

The first time in 113 years, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted on a motion to vacate the chair.

And first the time in U.S. history, the House has voted to the Speaker.

With eight joining all Democrats, Kevin McCarthy has been as Speaker by a vote of 216-210 and a new vote for Speaker will be forthcoming as members chart an unprecedented path forward.

The California Democrat was Speaker for 269 days.

The move to vacate the chair came after Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz filed the motion to vacate after the House agreed to a 45-day spending resolution that averted a federal shutdown on Saturday. Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted against the stopgap spending measure that was ultimately agreed to in the Senate and signed by .


, the eight Republicans joining all Democrats in ousting McCarthy were:

  • Andy Biggs, Arizona
  • Ken Buck, Colorado
  • Tim Burchett, Tennessee
  • Eli Crane, Arizona
  • Matt Gaetz, Florida
  • Bob Good, Virginia
  • Nancy Mace, South Carolina
  • Matt Rosendale, Montana

Mississippi's three Republican Congressional members – Trent (MS-1), Michael Guest (MS-3) and Mike Ezell (MS-4) – all voted to keep McCarthy just as they did when they each supported him for Speaker in January throughout all 15 rounds of .

However, all three Mississippi Congressmen were among the 90 Republicans who voted against the spending bill passed on Saturday.

Congressman Patrick Henry of North Carolina will serve as acting Speaker until a permanent replacement is elected by the body.

The two parties will now meet to decide their nominees for the upcoming Speaker election. Democrats are likely to put forward their leader Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York just as they did in January.


As for the Republicans, it is unclear at this point whether McCarthy loyalists will urge him to attempt a or if the caucus will put forward a new candidate that can unite their members and end the drama. 

The post History in the U.S. House: McCarthy ousted as Speaker appeared first on Magnolia Tribune.

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By: Frank Corder
Title: History in the U.S. House: McCarthy ousted as Speaker

Published Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2023 21:34:14 +0000

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Henifin to oversee Jackson sewer system along with water services



The court order comes after additional concerns of overflows from the wastewater system.

Ted Henifin, who has been the third-party appointed over the of Jackson's system since late 2022, has now officially taken on managing the city's sewer system.

In May of this year, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate indicated he planned to put Henifin over the sewer system. That order became official on Saturday.

JXN Water, the company Henifin started in order to manage the water system, commented on the recent saying they will work for the next four years to address the wastewater issues.

raw sewage flow down the streets of Jackson is unacceptable. JXN Water is aggressively at work right now to fix sewer overflows and restore sanitary sewer operations,” said Ted Henifin, interim third-party manager for Jackson's drinking water and sewer systems. “There are about 215 overflows right now across the city and they're in neighborhoods where people close by…. you got businesses, cars driving through, people to walk their dogs. They don't want to walk near this. It causes them to have to take alternate routes. It's just a mess, and we're going to get at it right away.”

Prior to the announcement, there was a 30-day public comment period in which 95% of those who came forward showed overwhelming for the appointment of a third-party manager.


The sewer system has been under scrutiny by the EPA, Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality, and Department of Environmental Quality since 2013. Currently, as mentioned by Henifin, the system is experiencing at least 215 overflows which is down from March 2020 when over 460 overflows were reported.

According to the order, between March 2020 and February 2022 over 110 million of wastewater were leaking and left untreated due to the overflows. The court also recognizes that $125 million has been authorized for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and construct improvements to the sewer system and water system in the city.

JXN Water recently sent mailers out to informing that they could face water shut offs moving forward if they do not pay their bills.

Henifin determined that JXN Water would only bill residents' balances back to December 2022 and forward. This is largely due to issues in collecting balances on meters that had been unreliable in the past. However, the city, separate from JXN Water, will still have authority to collect prior to that date.


JXN Water reported that as of now no customers have experienced water shut offs.

The post Henifin to oversee Jackson sewer system along with water services appeared first on Magnolia Tribune.

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By: Sarah Ulmer
Title: Henifin to oversee Jackson sewer system along with water services

Published Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2023 19:59:52 +0000

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MAMA brings together resources for mothers seeking assistance



A new website and app will provide a one-stop shop for mothers who are seeking financial aid options, healthcare resources, childcare, adoption, or pregnancy information in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Access to Maternal Assistance (MAMA) website is now up and running for mothers in the looking for additional resources.

The program, implemented by the Mississippi in 2023 through SB 2781, is housed in the Attorney General's office. The website and mobile app are intended to connect pregnant women and new mothers with resources in Mississippi.  

According to the legislation authored by State Senator Bart Williams, the requires the inclusion of resources, services and information through private and public agencies. These resources are to be pulled together by the Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) and overseen by the Attorney General's office.

Senator Williams said the bill came after conversations with colleague Senator Nicole Boyd, who has chaired the Women, Children, and Families committee in the Senate, in hopes of providing real action to the pro-life agenda.

“We need to be doing something that brings the resources together. That was kind of the genesis of it,” said Williams. “To be anti-abortion is an opinion but to be pro-life is an action.”


Information will from agencies like Department of , Department of Mental Health, the Department of Human Services, Department of Child Protective Services, Workforce Development, Employment Security and the Division of Medicaid. The site and app will also have links to county health departments.

The app outlines nine major categories: Pregnancy, Health, Adoption, Food, Goods, Safety, Money, Child Care, and Jobs.

Women who seek out services from MAMA can find ways to a pregnancy test or ultrasound, as well as visit a center with baby essentials and even birthing and parenting classes. In addition, how to enroll in Medicaid or find resources is referenced as part of the site.

The site and app provides information on adoption agencies, how to receive food benefits, financial aid or government benefits, jobs and childcare options.


Attorney General Lynn Fitch said public and private entities who are interested in participating in the resource can fill out an application form at www.mama.ms.gov.

“It's exciting because it's public and private, bringing all the resources together to provide opportunities for the mother or mother-to-be to look right there and see what's available,” said Fitch.

This program as part of The Empowerment Project, an initiative within the Attorney General's office. The project has supported legislation to promote workplace flexibility, quality affordable childcare, address issues in the foster care and adoption system, and child support enforcement.

“We think about goods and as mothers you're going to need a lot of goods. Whether it's diapers or wipes, cribs and strollers. It helps them have access to that,” said Fitch.


She added there is a safety component to the resource as well, giving women information on how to seek out legal counsel or domestic violence assistance.

Fitch said the website will give women and families the ability to access available jobs and workforce development programs that will aid them in the pursuit of a career and financial ability to provide for themselves and their families. She emphasized that none of the efforts are new programs, but rather existing resources. MAMA is merely a way of streamlining the search process to locate the resources most needed.

“Again, trying to look at every level that might uplift and empower these mothers to be and certainly provide assistance to their children,” said Fitch.

The mobile app is expected to launch in January 2024.


The post MAMA brings together resources for mothers seeking assistance appeared first on Magnolia Tribune.

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By: Sarah Ulmer
Title: MAMA brings together resources for mothers seeking assistance

Published Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2023 17:01:05 +0000

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