The following article contains editorial content by a staff writer with Law Enforcement Today.
WASHINGTON PARISH, LA – Four Louisiana corrections officers who posed for a photo with an apprehended felon – after they helped track him down and took him into custody – are facing a degree of backlash online.
However, this backlash is being achieved via some elongating mental gymnastics of trying to link racism to a tongue-in-cheek photo where an apprehended individual seems rather jovial after being apprehended.
Viral arrest photo draws national attention, no discipline for Washington Parish corrections officers https://t.co/HNXB52KWJj
— WWL-TV (@WWLTV) June 3, 2021
The anger seems to lend to a notion that white people taking photos with a black person is wrong, if said white people are in positions of authority and the black person is the criminal.
At least, in the case of white correctional officers apprehending a black suspect in Louisiana – that seems to be the case. And frankly, there isn’t much context to digest beyond the aforementioned.
Four unidentified corrections officers from Washington Parish had taken a somewhat silly photo with a man arrested for robbing a Mississippi bank.
Clearly, the corrections officers and the suspect were being cheesy in the photo, all smiling in the endeavor (which, considering that getting arrested isn’t exactly a fun time, speaks highly of the suspect in the case).
While a cheeky photo, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections acknowledged that maybe the photo wasn’t the brightest move by the corrections officers – but also noted that the picture itself didn’t break any detailed policies.
Ergo, none of the officers shown in the photo will be disciplined for the snafu.
But some are coming out and proclaiming that the photo snapped is some sort of veiled racism.
Ashraf Esmail, an associate professor of criminal justice at Dillard University, proclaims that the photograph reignites old instances of slave catchers tasked with apprehending runaway slaves from an era far gone:
“It brings about the history of slavery when you think about hunting of African Americans at one time. With the issue of law enforcement and racial justice this past year, it really gives off a very, very bad optic.”
The felon featured in the photo was identified as Eric Boykin, who is now residing in the Jefferson Davis County Jail under charges of armed robbery and being a felon in possession of a weapon.
Well, 4 out of the 5 men in the photo didn't allegedly rob a bank. So you want them disciplined for them taking a cheesy photo with a convicted felon? Why would you want to see harm enacted against those who did something innocuous? Seems petty & almost vindictive on your part.
— Greg Hoyt (@GregHoytLET) June 7, 2021
Perhaps the more reasonable of the storm of criticism pertaining to the photo came from the president of the Louisiana NAACP, Michael McClanahan, who simply pointed out that felony arrests aren’t exactly the ideal Kodak moment:
“It’s not becoming of a professional law enforcement officer because I know too many of them. They don’t do that. It sends a wrong message.”
While some have come forward asking that disciplinary action be taken against the men featured in the photo, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections explained that there’s simply nothing on the books with respect to such displays.
However, the DPSC stated that future sensitivity training will cover instances such as the aforementioned:
“The picture should not have been taken, it was poor judgement. We regret that it happened and will use this incident for sensitivity training for our staff.”
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In other news coming from Louisiana, back in January, Law Enforcement Today shared a report of a Louisiana city councilman that was arrested on eight counts of election fraud.
Here’s that previous report from January.
AMITE CITY, LA – An arrest was recently made in Amite City pertaining to alleged election fraud, but the suspect implicated in the alleged offense bears some troubling concerns. Apparently, the Amite City Councilman is being charged with eight counts of election fraud.
Attorney General Jeff Landry says a city councilman in Louisiana has been arrested for alleged election fraud. https://t.co/0XIaUfXSax
— WAFB (@WAFB) January 5, 2021
According to a statement made by both Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin on January 7th, Amite City Councilman Emanuel Zanders was arrested for allegedly submitting falsified voter registration applications that he knew to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent.
During a conference in Baton Rouge, AG Landry and Secretary Ardoin addressed the press expressing how important election integrity is given the current times.
AG Landry stated:
“Anything other than a one-for-one vote distorts our election process.”
“Those who wish to distort an election in this matter are breaking the law and betraying their fellow citizens. It is even more disheartening when the perpetrator is an elected official.”
Following those same sentiments, Secretary Ardoin added:
“Election integrity matters…Yesterday’s arrest is the culmination of work by my office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Registrar of Voters, and others; and it proves that the multi-level checks and balances of our election processes and procedures work.”
“This should serve as a stark warning to those looking to violate our election laws.”
According to The Advocate news report: "Zanders, a 52-year-old Democrat, was charged with 8 counts of election fraud"https://t.co/iYvDbXD3uK
— Greg Hoyt (@GregHoytLET) January 8, 2021
From what officials say on the matter, Zanders became the target of a joint investigation conducted by the the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation and the Secretary of State’s Office.
Back in October of 2020, the Tangipahoa Parish Registrar of Voters – which Amite City resides within said parish – had reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office when concerns first started cropping up about potential fraudulent voter registration forms containing bogus addresses.
This led investigators to finding evidence that Zanders allegedly duped over twenty people within Louisiana into signing incomplete registration forms that he would later alter the address information for.
Outside of that alleged series of acts, it’s further alleged that Zanders submitted another voter registration application of another Louisiana resident where he put down his own address on their application.
Concluding the statements on the recent arrest and charging of Zanders, AG Landry noted:
“Election integrity is the bedrock of our election process. I am proud of the work Secretary Ardoin has done to protect our elections and weed out bad actors who wish to betray our system and way of life.”
According to Louisiana Election Code RS 18:1461.2, Zanders could face up to two years in prison for each count of election fraud if convicted.
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