Lt. Josh Doggrell was associated with The League of the South when the Anniston police department issued a pink slip.
The news was reported June 18, 2015.
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The city of Anniston announced Friday a partnership with a federal agency to train police officers to be more racially sensitive and to improve community dialogue on race-related issues.
The announcement comes a week after City Manager Brian Johnson fired one police officer and accepted the retirement of another for their ties to a Southern secessionist organization some civil rights advocates say is a hate group.
In a Friday press release, the city announced its partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the service is the only federal agency dedicated to helping state and local governments, private and public organizations, and community groups prevent and resolve racial and ethnic tensions, civil disorder based on race, color, or national origin, and to address and prevent hate crimes, according to the Justice Department's website. The services are provided for free.
During a Friday phone interview, Johnson said the partnership was arranged to address the aftermath of the two police officers’ departure.
"This is a way for us to get assistance from a department that does this for a living," Johnson said. "They help communities move forward after there is actual or even perceived discrimination."
Johnson fired Lt. Josh Doggrell and accepted the retirement of Lt. Wayne Brown June 19. The decision came after a nearly three-day investigation into the officers' involvement with the Alabama-based League of the South.
The city placed both officers on leave and began the investigation after learning of an article posted to the Southern Poverty Law Center's website. The center is a Montgomery-based civil rights group, and the article covered Doggrell's speech to and Brown's attendance at a 2013 conference of the league.
The league categorizes itself as a group that advocates the South's secession from the United States. The SPLC said the league has become increasingly militant and anti-Semitic in recent years, and the center considers the organization a hate group.
Johnson said the day after the SPLC article came out, he had police Chief Shane Denham contact the Justice Department. After a few days of investigation, the department agreed the city's issue warranted its involvement, he said.
"They will come in probably next week and come up with a refined program that will involve training of police officers ... racial sensitivity and ways to prevent and recognize racial profiling," Johnson said.
He said the agency would also create an organized forum for the community to speak with city leaders and the police departmentto help mitigate any unresolved issues.
“If we are going to continue to move forward as a community, we have to do it together with everyone on the same page and at the same table,” Mayor Vaughn Stewart was quoted as saying in the news release. “This is our way of doing that and it is my hope that this service and all those involved in this process will provide some much-needed and long-overdue healing in this community. We have come too far to turn back now.”
More racist hate crime reports at AbateTheHate.com [click here]
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