Black People : Sheriff says black male has Chee Wee hairstyles amongst other things

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by dustyelbow, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    ACLU: sheriff's hairstyle comment racist
    7/8/2006, 11:33 a.m. CT
    The Associated Press

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A northshore sheriff's statement that some black hairstyles are likely to bring notice from his office was racist, a civil rights violation and should be retracted, the American Civil Liberties Union says.

    St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain and a spokesman said the ACLU was distorting comments about suspects in the murders of two adults and two teenagers from New Orleans in a trailer in Slidell.

    The suspects were identified as two young black men, one with dreadlocks and one with the shorter, tighter curls known as twists — a style which Strain compared to locally made cheese curls.

    "I don't want to get into calling people names, but if you're going to walk the streets of St. Tammany Parish with dreadlocks and Chee Wee hairstyles, then you can expect to be getting a visit from a sheriff's deputy," he said in an interview broadcast on WDSU-TV.

    And, he said, "I don't want to see temporary housing because of Katrina turn into long-term housing for a bunch of thugs and trash that don't need to be in St. Tammany Parish."

    Targeting people based on hairstyles common among blacks is "overtly racist" and a civil rights violation, the Louisiana ACLU said in a two-page open letter dated Wednesday and signed by attorney Katie Schwartzmann.

    "Sheriff Strain, surely we do not have to tell you that it is lawful to walk the street, and it is further lawful to wear one's hair any way deemed appropriate," Schwartzmann wrote.

    The ACLU said it has received complaints from Nazarene Christians, who "wear dreadlocks as a religious requirement" and are afraid they'll be arrested if they leave their homes in St. Tammany Parish.

    Capt. George Bonnett, a spokesman for Strain, said he would ask the sheriff for comment but doubted that he would talk to a reporter Saturday.

    In a letter which Strain sent Thursday to the ACLU and made public Friday, he said it's basic police work to question anyone who matches a suspect's description.

    "If someone matching that description has committed no wrongdoing, they have nothing to fear," Strain said in the letter. "No one, regardless of their ethnic or religious background, should be afraid to walk the streets of St. Tammany."

    Schwartzmann said, "even detaining citizens for questioning is covered by constitutional rights to due process and equal protection."

    She said ACLU officials plan to discuss the matter with local NAACP officials.

    Strain's letter to the ACLU said he has never, in 22 years as a law enforcement officer, been accused of a civil rights violation. Nor has the sheriff's office been convicted of such a violation in his 10 years as sheriff, he wrote.

    Strain declined to be interviewed Friday by The Times-Picayune, but issued a two-sentence statement: "Through a narrow and distorted interpretation of our efforts, some have chosen to politicize an issue that is, at its very heart, not political. Our obligation to protect the public's safety knows no color, race or creed."

    The ACLU's letter accused Strain of engaging in racial profiling of Katrina evacuees.

    "Your comments routinely equate 'trash' and 'thugs' with 'evacuees' and 'public housing residents.' It is neither fair nor accurate to intimate that all New Orleans evacuees are thugs and criminals," the letter said.

    Strain has said his comments were meant to alert St. Tammany residents about possible "spillover crime" from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

    The rest here...