Two police officers in Anniston, Alabama have left their jobs, with one taking retirement and the other being fired, over their alleged links to a White supremacist group, according to reports.
The New York Daily News reports that the Anniston police department terminated Lt. Josh Doggrell’s employment and accepted the retirement of Lt. Wayne Brown after the public discovery of their ties to the League of the South (LOS), a neo-confederate hate group.
Doggrell’s association with the LOS came to light in a recently published video of the officer while he was apparently presiding over a meeting of the group, which believes Southern states should separate and establish a Christian theocracy of “Anglo-Celtics.” He is heard bragging that his superior officers not only know of his involvement with the group, but fully support his actions, according to the video uploaded by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The LOS also pushes for former Confederacy states to break away from “the alien occupier,” according to its website.
“The vast majority of men in uniform are aware that they’re Southerners,” Doggrell said from the podium to the assembly of White supremacists. “And kith and kin comes before illegal national mandates.”
Doggrell claims he said to his chief last year about his LOS affiliation, “I’m not going to sell out my position with the League as something I believe in strongly. If it came down to it, I’d choose the League,” according to RawStory.
The officer, who had been with the department for nine years, then states he asked his superior officer, “Is there anything you want to ask me?” His chief allegedly replied, “You just answered every question I have … We pretty much think like you do.”
“It’s good to be among people who think like I do for a change,” Doggrell said in the video, according to NY Daily News. “We’re working on getting people around to our way of thinking.”
During a news conference at City Hall, Anniston City Manager Brian Johnson said Doggrell had been identified as the man in the video posted by the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog. He added that Doggrell has been terminated for his association with the LOS.
To avoid “adverse publicity” and “creating a distraction” for the police department, Brown has decided to retire, said Johnson. He added that Brown was also identified in the SPLC blog.
Stating that Doggrell’s association with the LOS came to his attention about three weeks ago, Johnson said that he was unaware of what the group was when he was contacted by the SPLC. “Prior to that, I had never heard of them,” he added.
Stating that Doggrell had been investigated in 2009 regarding his association with the LOS, Johnson said his personnel file was “without blemish.” He added that although there was no evidence at the time that Doggrell’s activity with the LOS had “crossed over” into his work as a police officer, he has evidently grown more radical since then.
At a meeting with city council members, NAACP leaders and civil rights activists on Thursday with the police, Mayor Vaughn Stewart said, “This city will not tolerate any kind of racism or bigotry.”
“Something has to be done. This isn’t the first incident, and it’s not the first incident with these officers,” said city council member David Reddick.
“There’s a trail of evidence that leads so far back that this should not have happened,” he added, noting that officials knew about Doggrell’s ties with the LOS and did nothing about it for years.
“I think it’s unfortunate that an outside organization had to come and help us do something about what’s happening inside here,” Reddick continued. “But this is one of the reasons we need to take basic diversity training, race relations training.”
While he believes that “there is no more noble job” than being a police officer, firefighter or EMT, Reddick stated that the city’s leadership and executive administrative positions are sorely in need of undergoing sensitivity training to avoid future situations like this.
“Problems start at the top,” he said, adding, “If leaders are doing the right thing, it passes down to the followers.”