A shocking new report has come out of Alabama, with documented proof that police in an Alabama town have been framing Black men with guns and drugs for years. According to Henry County Report, officers in the Dothan, Alabama police department planted drugs and weapons on Black men since 1996, with the complicity of those above them, who have since become higher level officials in the city and state. The evidence reportedly shows “irrefutable evidence of criminal activity” at the highest levels of law enforcement.
Based on documents obtained by the Alabama Justice Project, the Henry County Report has found that Andy Hughes, then the head of the city’s narcotics investigation squad and a sergeant, was also leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a neo-Confederate group consisting of the squad members.
“All of the officers reportedly were members of a Neoconfederate organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels ‘racial extremists.’ The group has advocated 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 Henry County Report writes in their report. Hughes is now Assistant Director of Homeland Security for the state of Alabama.
Also a part of this neo-Confederate group was lieutenant Steve Parrish, who is currently the police chief of Dothan. Parrish and Hughes reportedly held leadership positions in this club, and are pictured in a photo holding a confederate battle flag at a secret meeting held by the group. Although Hughes and Parrish were mentioned in various internal affairs investigations, then-police chief John White and District Attorney Doug Valeska failed to follow department procedures and notify state and federal authorities about the inquiry.
Further, since the mid-1990s, Black defendants had accused the police department of wholesale planting of drugs and weapons and wrongful arrests. Specifically, young Black men with clean records were targeted. And in 1998, the department reportedly ignored complaints from a group of white officers concerning the evidence planting and false arrests they had witnessed. Chief White waited for a year before turning over the complaints from the department’s own officers to the Internal Affairs Division. Meanwhile, in 1999, over a dozen officers had allegations of planting guns, marijuana and cocaine on Black men they wrongfully arrested, according to the Henry County Report. Each was notified of the investigation against them, and most reportedly failed a polygraph examination.
Michael Magrino–one of the officers who allegedly planted drugs and guns, and asked Valeska and Hughes to intervene in the internal investigation and participate in the coverup–is now an investigator for the state Indigent Defense Fund. Internal files related to Magrino alone found some 50 cases that were questionably prosecuted. These 50 cases do not include previous cases in which he was the arresting officer, or the numerous other officers who were alleged by their fellow officers of engaging in criminal activity.
“The documents shared reveal that the internal affairs investigation was covered up to protect the aforementioned officers’ law enforcement careers and keep them from being criminally prosecuted,” the report says.
This latest report has found that hundreds of Black men were prosecuted based on the planted evidence, with many of the wrongfully convicted men still imprisoned. There are currently two federal lawsuits pending by former police officers Keith Gray and Raemonica Carney Cloyd against the Dothan Police Department, according to Henry County Reporter. “The City of Dothan’s residents and its employees are entitled to and deserve local governmental leadership and representation that is void of hate, the impression of hate, racism, discrimination, and inequality from the City of Dothan’s Police Department,” Cloyd said on YouTube. “The selection of former Police Major Steve Parrish as the new Police Chief knowing his long time affiliation and admitted membership as Commander of the Henry Light Infantry Camp #1968…leaves no room for interpretation that the City of Dothan supports what this hate group represents.”
According to the U.S. Census, Dothan had a population last year of a little more than 68,000 people. If this level of official corruption and criminal misconduct is taking place in an Alabama town, then one can only imagine how much framing of Black men is taking place by racist police officers across the nation.’
A Washington Post criminal justice writer raised some doubt about leaked report authored by Jon Carroll after it went viral. The writer was unable to confirm or disprove the damning allegations highlighted in the report. Carroll reportedly stated in an interview with Slate that he will release more of the 800+ documents over time and hopes to trigger a Justice Department investigation. Neither of which has materialized.
While the accusations are not yet authenticated, Dothan, Alabama is by no means vindicated of its inbred racism. The Washington Post listed some equally damaging findings in their criminal justice system that overwhelmingly impacts Black people negatively.
- According to the Equal Justice Initiative, from 2006 to 2010, prosecutors from Houston County used preemptory strikes to exclude 82 percent of black jurors from death penalty cases.
- Because of those challenges, every single death penalty case in Houston County over that period had an all-white jury or a jury with a single black juror. Houston County is 27 percent black.
- Valeska’s office has had several cases overturned by appeals courts due to the systematic exclusion of blacks from juries. He has also had verdicts overturned due to illegal evidence and improper comments to juries.
- Despite a population of just 103,000, Houston County has sent 17 people to death row, a staggering rate that leads the state and, as best I can tell, is the highest rate in the nation among counties with three or more death sentences — by quite a bit.
- In June, federal district court judge Myron Thompson refused to throw out a racial discrimination suit by longtime Dothan police officer Keith Gray. In that suit Thompson noted that Parrish was not only a member of a group called “Sons of the Confederacy,” he named his own son after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan. Parrish, who again is currently the Dothan police chief, recently confirmed his membership in Sons of the Confederacy to the Dothan Eagle. “I am a history enthusiast,” Parrish told the paper. “My ancestors fought for the South during the Civil War, and I’m proud of it.” Dothan is 30 percent black.
- Gray’s suit alleges numerous incidents of Dothan officers using racial slurs and incidents of racial bigotry.
- His suit further alleges harassment and mistreatment of minority citizens, including at least one incident in which a young black man was arrested on what Gray deemed to be “trumped up charges.”