Nsombi Lambright, ACLU of Mississippi Executive Director, (601) 354-3408;
Derrick Johnson, NAACP State President, (601) 624-7715

JACKSON - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of MS and the MS State Conference NAACP are calling for state and federal officials to investigate an incident that occurred in Sumner, MS on August 20, 2009.

Our offices received several calls alleging that Tallahatchie County Prosecuting Attorney John Whitten led a heavily armed “militia” consisting of private citizens in search of a suspect accused of breaking and entering. According to initial reports, the incident allegedly involved vigilante and terrorizing activities by public officials in Tallahatchie County.

Derrick Johnson, State President of Mississippi NAACP states: “The NAACP was established to advocate for federal anti-lynching legislation to ensure that all citizens are protected from vigilante violence and racial hate crimes.” According to reports from eyewitnesses, Whitten and several heavily armed private citizens, consuming alcohol, chased a person into a wooded area seeking their own form of justice.

“No one is above the law and everyone involved should be held accountable. We are encouraging the U.S. Attorney General’s office to investigate this incident,” stated Nsombi Lambright, Mississippi ACLU Executive Director.

The ACLU and NAACP are requesting the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Mississippi Attorney General’s office to conduct an immediate investigation into the allegations.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of MS is a non profit organization founded in 1969. Its mission is to protect and enhance those rights guaranteed by the United State’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.