Lawsuit: Couple Researching Stereotypes in Mississippi Have Rights Violated by Rogue Cops

 stout and montgomery

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Public Safety on behalf of a doctoral student who was researching negative stereotypes in Mississippi when she and another person were allegedly racially profiled by police.

While Cathryn Stout and Raymond Montgomery  were on their way to conduct interviews for a research paper, they were stopped by a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer. The officer claimed that Stout’s Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA)  license plate holder obstructed the view of her tag. Stout’s attorney, however, insists that the tag violated no Mississippi law.

In the end, a supposed license plate infraction ended with the officer calling for backup and searching through the vehicle even though he was never given Montgomery’s permission.


ThinkProgress reports:

After Montgomery denied a request by the trooper to search the vehicle, the lawsuit alleges that things escalated very quickly. Over the course of the next hour, two more police officers arrived on the scene, including a police staff sergeant and an officer with a police dog. The officers interrogated Stout about the purpose of her trip to Mississippi. They asked if anyone had asked them to “transport anything” or if they were carrying weapons. When Stout began to video record the encounter with her cell phone, one of the officers allegedly ordered her to put her phone away. By the time the police finally let Stout and Montgomery go, the lawsuit alleges, the officers had rummaged through their luggage and Stout’s purse. They’d searched every compartment of the vehicle, and they’d used a wrench and a crowbar to remove the panels on the sides of Stout’s car.

 

The irony here is that Stout and Montgomery were working on a research paper about combating negative stereotypes in Mississippi when they were stopped.

Troopers did not give them a ticket since they’d done nothing wrong. The couple has no plans of returning to central Mississippi.

11 comments
TheSandersFirmPC
TheSandersFirmPC

Yes, Good Ole MS.  I remember in the early 90s' when I was a rookie NYPD police officer and Vice President of the Guardians Association, Police Department City of New York, a fraternal organization of African-American police officers, I was attending the National Black Police Association Conference in Orlando, FL.  

Back then, there was a pattern of questionable police enforcement activities occurring in Hattiesburg, MS, against African-Americans.  I was asked by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the James Earl Chaney Foundation to sit on a panel as a police expert to discuss Use of Force, etc.  I agreed.  I flew from Orlando, FL to New Orleans, LA then drove north to Hattiesburg, MS.  I instantly felt the racism in the air.


The panel discussion occurred in the Hattiesburg City Council Legislative Chambers.  Needless to say, the local and police officials were not very pleased in what I had to say about the police conduct.  By the time I was finished, I was asked by the police chief to inspect the police academy and its training program, I respectfully declined.  I knew I had to get the hell of Hattiesburg.  Anyway, right after the panel discussion, I left immediately, gassed up heading south on Interstate 59 towards New Orleans.  As I left the gas station, I was followed by a group of 6-8 Caucasian males in a pickup truck.  As I passed the Hattiesburg, MS border, a police vehicle was waiting these Caucasian males followed me for about five miles then turned around.  Then a MS State Trooper followed me for another couple of miles after a couple of miles turned around.   LOL meanwhile, I violated no laws.  I meant no written laws.  I DID violate the “Black Codes.”  In other words, be quiet Boy, y’all have no rights.     

An absolutely crazy experience...  That experience cemented my resolve to eventually become a New York Civil Rights Lawyer. 

I wish this couple lots of luck.  These fights for respect and basic human dignity are never-ending. 

Eric Sanders, Esq. of The Sanders Firm, P.C.  www.thesandersfirmpc.com

lybragyrl87
lybragyrl87

Same thing happened to me and my fiance when we were driving from Arizona to Florida going through Texas. We didn't deny them the opportunity to search my car though just to get it over and done with. After having the dog search the entire car, rummaging through our food and things, nothing was found of course. Did we even get an apology? Hell no

Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace

With the sad incident they experienced, their dissertations are complete, and both should receive an A!!!

LadyGemini71
LadyGemini71

I don't understand why you let them search your car in the first place! If they had no probable cause (and it doesn't sound like they did) to search your car then, why would you allow them to search it?!!! And, after you foolishly let them search your car, you thought you were going to get an apology?!!! Chile please! What planet are you living on?!!!!

dre2911
dre2911

Get over it ...will or can a zebra change it's stripes ???

lybragyrl87
lybragyrl87

Yeah...no, I wasn't about to tell them no. That would've just caused more problems. I had all my stuff in my car since I was moving from Az to Fl and we were in Tx. We still had a long drive ahead and in my mind, I figured the sooner they got it over with, the sooner we could be on our way. I wasn't tryna give them no reason to plant some shit in my car.

UrbanHabuki
UrbanHabuki

@LadyGemini71

My dear,  what planet are you living on? when you find yourself with white threating policemen and you are not going to let them search your car?  Be mindful, check for identifying name, badge number and car number and sue them later with the intent of having them fire too not be in a position to harass other African-Americans.

KCJackson
KCJackson

Smart. I would have done the same thing ;)

KCJackson
KCJackson

Exactly after they do their search and you are gone....tell him no and they may kill you. .