The Cajun John Wayne Vows War on Gangbangers, Talking Big Game, but Failing to See Big Picture - PINAC News
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The Cajun John Wayne Vows War on Gangbangers, Talking Big Game, but Failing to See Big Picture

The folks in Louisiana love St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Captain Clay Higgins and his viral Crime Stopper videos. They love his tough talk and criminal shaming delivered to his audience with a Cajun flair and a compassion for both the victim and the suspects he profiles.

Higgins latest video, however, managed not only to be offensive to me it also caught the attention of the Louisiana ACLU who issued a press release blasting “The Cajun John Wayne” for his choice of words when confronting the notorious Gremlins gang, who operate from Abbeville and the surrounding area and were profiled in the video.

Higgins video features law enforcement officers from Acadiana, the central region of the state, alongside many leaders from local black communities, all standing together against the gang violence that continues to plague their communities.

In the video, Higgins holds an assault rifle as he promises to hunt and trap seven men who escaped a Vermillion Parish Narcotics Task Force gang roundup led by state police in December. The roundup netted ten alleged members of the Gremlin Gang while seven remain fugitives. Higgins calls the wanted men “heathens” and suggests to the seven remaining “animals” that raising a weapon to law enforcement will get them killed.

Here is the statement issued by the ACLU as reported by KATC.com:

“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.”

While the ACLU should be concerned with Higgins and his choice of words, they missed the opportunity to address the issue of the failed war on drugs and the violence, criminal activity and erosion of our civil rights that have come with this war. The civil rights organization failed to mention that Louisiana has the largest per capita prison population in the world and for all of the hundreds of thousands of gang members that have been locked up, we have done nothing to stop the gang problem or the violence it creates.

Family members of the wanted men were also upset by Higgins choice of words in the video, according to KATC.com.

“My son is a human being not an animal,” said Coretta Williams, the mother of one of the accused gang members. “Just as Mr. Higgins’ mother feels that he’s a human being and not an animal. It was uncalled for. It disgusts me, because someone that serves the public…someone with that magnitude to have such negative feelings towards the community that he is obligated to protect and serve did an injustice. “

Abbeville and Vermillion Parish residents have every reason to be concerned about the saturation of gangs in their neighborhoods. The area has been struggling with the gang problem for decades even after seeing the creation of tasks forces making hundreds of arrests each year for crimes associated with gang activity.

In 2000, after a joint task force investigation dubbed “Doomed Legions II”, 16 arrests were made in connection with the Legion of Doom street gang operating in and around Abbeville. The Advocate reported that the investigation lasted more than three years and took twelve years to conclude.

“Doomed Legions II” also netted a 15-year veteran of the Abbeville Police Department, Calvin J. Broussard Sr., who was convicted of providing security and confidential information to gang members to aid in criminal gang activity. Even after the conclusion of this expensive and intense task force operation and the heavy sentencing of gang members, the gang problem has continued.

Higgins video perpetuates the idea that the gang problem in this country can be solved by coming together as a community and locking up gangbangers wherever and whenever we find them but he doesn’t mention that large arrests of gang members tends to create a vacuum in the drug pipeline leading to more violence as younger gang members immediately fill the void and rival gangs fight for over the newly-available turf.

Higgins also doesn’t mention that even when we lock up gangbangers, they continue to participate in the drug trade and violent activities in jail. Many times they are able to continue running their gang enterprises from behind bars while recruiting new members who are also serving their sentences.

The brotherhood and safety offered to gang members may help in recruiting new people, but it’s the large amount of money that comes from participating in the drug trade fueling gangs and their violent lifestyle. It’s sadly reminiscent of the mafia wars during alcohol prohibition when criminal organizations were fighting to control the millions of dollars generated through the illegal manufacturing and trafficking of liquor.

While Elliot Ness became an American hero for waging war on the mob and their alcohol enterprises, his efforts did nothing to put a dent in mafia operations or the demand for alcohol. The removal of prohibition is what essentially put an end to the illegal alcohol trade by putting many manufactures, runners and distributers out of business.

This video perpetuates the idea that we can solve the gang problem with community involvement, expensive tasks forces, more no-knock raids, more mass incarceration and endlessly arming our police departments with military grade weapons. Higgins encourages citizens to risk life and limb to report gang activity and accept the failed strategy of police, knowing that it will do nothing to stop the flow of drugs or violence and may even get people killed.

So while it may make us feel good to hear Higgins shaming and threatening these “animals” and while many of us want to see action taken to stop gang violence, perpetuating the myth that we can arrest our way out of this crisis is not going to fix the problem. Even if Captain Higgins has the highest respect for the rights of the gang members he hunts, it will not fix the problem.

http://photographyisnotacrime.com/2015/10/13/louisianas-cajun-john-wayne-an-up-close-and-personal-interview-with-the-tough-talking-sheriffs-spokesman-turned-viral-sensation/

 

Perhaps it’s time for Higgins to use his Cajun charm and celebrity status to promote solutions to the gang problem with strategies that have worked in the past, like ending the prohibition on marijuana and addressing the poverty, the struggling education system, the lack of low income housing and the lack of available drug rehabilitation services that plagues our state.

Perhaps Higgins, the task force and the ACLU should use their voice to oppose the past and projected state budget cuts that slash programs shown to help solve the gang problem and oppose the continued funding of expensive task forces with vicious dogs, assault rifles, and tanks who have only managed to erode our freedoms and bring more violence into our communities.

 

 

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