Dr. Stacy Branch Updates Concerns About Anniston Police Abuse
Letter to the Editors Of The People’s Voice
Back on February 1, you printed my letter concerning the experience my husband and I had of police misconduct (Anniston, AL police). Again, I thank you for being willing to print it and even responding. I called you a couple of times, but you were not in at those times. I decided it may be best to wait until there was more information to share or if there were any additional news concerning this.
We are still searching for an attorney to file a lawsuit against these cops and the city that employs them. We had an attorney who added insult to injury. The attorney we hired and paid (who never did get around to filing the lawsuit against the officers and their municipality) forged our signatures on documents submitted to the court without our authorization (she was supposed to submit a notice of intent to file a lawsuit). When we finally did see the documents, we (nor anyone) would have allowed these to be submitted. We believed that being African-American, she would at least have an understanding of the impact of what we suffered. After committing many more errors, she still did not prepare nor file any lawsuit after spending thousands of dollars of our retainer funds. This is just another form of disenfranchisement. The little money we struggle to earn is eaten up in counteracting civil and human rights violations, false charges, and other ridiculous attacks. Then our energy and resources are further disintegrated when those we trust to represent us in these struggles act in incompetence or lack of commitment to their jobs.
It was and still is important to me to be able to connect with someone who may genuinely understand what we went and are still going through. I tried communicating on several occasions with the NAACP and the National Action Network for a year to no avail (not even a greeting or acknowledgment of receipt). For example, I wrote twice and spoke by phone with Rev. Randy R. Kelley of Hobson City, AL – Anniston/Calhoun County president of the NAACP. I did not ask for legal representation (although we could certainly use it) or anything substantial, just a response to my letter in hopes that I can believe that we as a people still care for one another. He said he would, but never did.
Every case of civil and human rights abuse is important, and although one person may be affected in a given incident, it represents the multitudes that are affected by the same type of injustice daily. Exposing these incidences as much as possible serve to, not only vindicate the victims, but informs the public. Civil rights organizations may not be able to fight each and every case, but they can respond to a call or e-mail indicating that they at least care. Doing as much as we can EVERY time an abuse occurs helps to put the abusers on notice. When daily abuses go ignored and unaddressed, these crimes escalate in frequency, number and severity. Then, when the most egregious acts occur, these too then go unpunished. The message sent is that police, government, etc. can at will violate our rights and even kill us at anytime without redress.
The residents and even the government of Anniston, AL should wonder how their tax dollars are being spent. I have read that Anniston, AL has a violent crime rate issue that the community is trying to address. Yet the police spend their time acting out acts of bigotry, wasting time and dollars to arrest Black and Brown people for nothing instead of arresting actual criminals. In our case alone, there were a total of eight white male officers harassing us (some who were with dogs and a couple of the cops were narcotics officers). All this for what! An entire day was spent on this and court time for the cases they surely knew would be dismissed. They just wanted to harass and dehumanize and did not care that their false charges would be dismissed. Why all of this? All of this occurred simply because a Black woman and a Mexican man were traveling in peace on the highway. By the way, we found out that it was the week of confederate celebration on top of everything. They used their badges and positions to discriminate, harass and abuse innocent people, period. If they knew that there would be a likelihood of accountability, they may not have chosen to go on this needless hunt. Is it that the people are in agreement with spending tax dollars on modern day lynchings?
What I’ve also realized is that I do not have a single white colleague who has suffered anything remotely resembling this, yet I have at least three black colleagues who have been ill treated by the justice system in some way. I am still interested in continuing discussions with you. You have at least cared enough to respond to me and even print the story. You were the only African-American to do so. If not for this, I would have believed that we as a people have completely forsaken one another (especially, given the apparent indifference of community leaders and the misconduct of our attorney). I am still hoping we have not yet forsaken each other. If you can suggest any forms of redress or attorneys we can contact to file a lawsuit, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you again and I look forward to hearing from you.
Stacy Branch, DVM, PhD, FACFE, DABFM
106 Rugged Dr.
Red Oak, TX 75154