According to the Henry County Report, Internal Affairs records show that
their superiors, several of whom have since been promoted, knew about the practice and helped cover it up. The lieutenant reportedly implicated by the documents is now the chief of the department. The sergeant said to have obstructed the Internal Affairs investigation went on to become sheriff and then director of homeland security for the state, a position he continues to hold today. The district attorney at the time (still in office) sat on exculpatory evidence and proceeded with felony prosecutions against the individuals the officers had framed, Henry County Report writes.
There’s a lot going on in this story, which the Alabama Justice Project is said to have helped break thanks to anonymous whistleblowers within the Dothan Police Department. But one detail that’s worth highlighting is the alleged affiliation of the dozen or so officers involved with a secretive neo-Confederate organization that holds the Civil Rights Movement to be a Jewish conspiracy and believes the path forward on American race relations is to ship black people back to Africa.
Often, our discussions of police criminality revolve around concepts of structural racism and implicit bias. That is as it should be. But it’s also important to remember that sometimes it really is just plain, old-fashioned bigotry.
UPDATE: The Southern Poverty Law Center, which helped disseminate the report and is cited as one of its references, has since issued a retraction via Twitter, explaining that “questions have arisen about the reporting and readers should not assume the claims are true until more information is provided.” The language of this post has been changed to reflect these uncertainties. The New Republic will continue to track and update this story.