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ACLU issues statement about Higgins' segment; Captain Higgins re - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

ACLU issues statement about Higgins' segment; Captain Higgins requests a debate

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Update: In the ACLU news release, they refer to a statement made by Captain Clay Higgins regarding placing a "bounty on their heads".  The statement, however, was not made by Captain Higgins in the video.  That sentence was part of a draft copy of the script that never made air, but was inadvertently published by other media outlets.  We have since sent the final draft copy to those media outlets, so the verbiage can be removed.    

We also spoke to the ACLU today, who says even if he didn't make that specific statement, they still are concerned about respecting the principles of the Constitution, especially regarding lawful arrests and due process.

Today, Captain Higgins did a phone interview with "Walton & Johnson", a national radio show, where he challenged the ACLU to a debate following their criticism.  "The ACLU has a point that they feel is righteous, and of course they're wrong, but that's subject for debate.  I invite them to that debate. I'd like to fill a 10,000 man hall in Baton Rouge.  Whoever authored that letter, whatever team authored that letter, I'm sure they'd be happy to debate me in a public forum. We can sell tickets. 10,000 of them at $10.00 a piece and raise $100,000 for charity. I can certainly generate 9,998 of my followers, and they can bring both of theirs, and we'll have a healthy debate and let the American people decide," says Higgins.

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Wednesday night, Capt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office appeared in a segment about the search for alleged members of the Gremlins street gang. 

The seven accused individuals were identified by State Police in December, when details of an extensive, multi-agency investigation were released. Another 10 people accused in the investigation already had been apprehended, but police still are seeking seven others. Higgins, who is the parish's Crime Stoppers spokesman, created a segment about the remaining suspects. Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, as well as leaders of St. Landry Parish's African-American community, participated in the segment. To view it, click here

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana forwarded a statement regarding the segment to KATC. The full text of the statement is as follows: 

"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.  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."

"We live in a system of laws, and there are legal rights that apply to everyone.  It is the job of law enforcement to protect those rights while also keeping our communities safe.  Nothing that Mr. Higgins said will make his community safer, but there is much to suggest violations of fundamental rights of all.

"Acting on valid arrest warrants in a legal manner is Mr. Higgins' job.  I hope he can do that job well.  In doing so he must honor the laws of this country, or he is unfit to serve."

Capt. Higgins full video response is available here.  Video segment from the newscast is here.

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