From the you can't make this ish up file, the Mississippi American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint this afternoon alleging the Mississippi Highway Patrol engaged in racial profiling and violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Raymond Montgomery and Cathryn Stout, who are African American.
The stop happened Aug. 8 just north of Jackson on I-55 South, the ACLU said. A doctoral student at Saint Louis University, Stout "was traveling to Jackson to conduct interviews for a paper on Mississippians’ efforts to combat negative stereotypes of their state," the ACLU said.
According to the ACLU's press release, troopers pulled the couple over for Stout's Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. — a historically African American sorority — license plate holder. The release goes on to say:
"When (the couple) exercised their constitutional right to refuse to consent to a search, the trooper called his supervisor, Staff Sergeant Brad Vincent. The plaintiffs watched helplessly as troopers riffled through their suitcase and invaded their privacy. The troopers even dismantled the panels of their interior doors and looked under the hood of their car. In an effort to document the troopers’ actions, Stout tried to record the events on her phone camera. She was told to stop, and fearing arrest, she did. Their hour-long humiliation finally ended when the troopers could not find any contraband. They were sent on their way without any ticket, or an apology."
Stout noted the irony that the whole purpose of her trip was to show how far Mississippi has come in combating the image that the state is racially hostile.
"Unfortunately, my experience with the Highway Patrol revealed a much different picture,” Stout said.
Interestingly, at an Aug. 2012 legislative hearing on immigration reform, Vincent testified that Mexico-based cartels frequently transport narcotics through Mississippi and that the telltale signs of foreign drug mules, include old vehicles with new registrations filled with personal belongings. So it's possible that MHP thought Stout and Raymond (pictured below) were drug runners from south of the border.
The lawsuit, in which Department of Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz is named as the main defendant, was filed in federal court in Jackson.