The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is attacking a Louisiana police captain over his viral video calling out gang violence.
In the video, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Officer Clay Higgins threatens members of a local gang and calls them “heathens,” which outraged ACLU Louisiana. The ACLU chapter released a statement to KATC Thursday decrying Higgins’ words as “inappropriate and incorrect.” Now, Higgins wants to have a public debate.
“While we support legal law enforcement and certainly are as concerned as anyone about violence in our neighborhoods, law enforcement officers must be aware of the implications of their public statements,” the ACLU said.
The ACLU statement continues:
Assuming that what is reported is true, Mr. Higgins has suggested that those he seeks to arrest are subject to execution before trial. The statement that there is a “bounty on their heads” harks back to lawlessness, when people were killed first and questions asked later. That is not the way we operate in a free society, and regardless of Mr. Higgins’ opinions about the guilt of those he seeks to arrest, it is a felony to execute someone simply because you don’t like them.
He refers to those he seeks to arrest as “heathens.” “Heathen” is a religious term, and unless Mr. Higgins has specific information about the religious beliefs of those individuals, it is both inappropriate and incorrect. And even if it’s true that these individuals, or some of them, are religiously “heathen,” that is of no consequence to their status as criminal suspects. Unless Mr. Higgins believes that all law-abiding people share his personal religious faith – and if he does believe that, he should not be an officer of the law – to call someone a “heathen” and equate that to “criminal” is simply insulting, wrong, and potentially a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Higgins’ video went viral after it was posted.
“You will be hunted,” the captain says in the video. “You will be trapped. And if you raise your weapon to a man like me, we’ll return fire with superior fire.”
Higgins gets aggressive with the alleged gang members, even threatening them.
“Look at you, men like us — we do dumbbell presses with weights bigger than you,” he says. “And the convicts in jail, most of those men are good people who just found themselves crossed with the law. They’re not evil and they don’t respect you or any punk like you. They’ll toss you around like a rag doll.”
He finishes the video by saying, “we’d rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
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