AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Black residents in coastal Georgia area feel targeted by local sheriff

Nearly every black resident I spoke with in McIntosh County last month for our front page story that ran Sunday had an experience getting stopped by local law enforcement for a minor infraction or they knew someone who'd been stopped.

Here's a video of John Littles, a local community organizer, describing how he was stopped one morning by a local deputy and how the deputy's reasoning for stopping him seemed dubious.

“They’ve created an environment where they are not on our side,” said Littles, executive director of McIntosh SEED, a group focused on education and economic growth. “It’s almost like us against them.”

Issues of race and policing have been at the forefront in McIntosh County after last month's revelation about racist Facebook messages sent by two former deputies in the department.

The local sheriff, Stephen D. Jessup, says these ex-deputies' racial attitudes do not reflect his views or those of the people in his agency.

However, we spoke to several ex-deputies in the agency who said the sheriff has set the tone by using racist language himself.





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About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.