"for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams."    GENESIS 37:17
INTRODUCTION: LYNCH DOGS
In 2013 Keith Ivan Gray, a 28 year veteran black police officer in Dothan, Alabama, was fired for attending motorcycle club parties ( the Outcasts a 1% club considered a criminal enterprise by the FBI ) where drugs were alleged to be present and viewing porn with a department-issued cell phone. He subsequently accused his supervisor, Steve Parrish, (now chief) of being a racist member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The officer sued in federal court claiming "systemic racism by the department", and admitted he witnessed a white narcotics squad, directed by Chief Parrish, target the black community for years. In his position of head of internal affairs, he claimed investigations to stop it were blocked. In private, he claimed there were 11 other officers he was investigating for targeted drug planting. Documents from the internal affairs files were arranged to be leaked that detailed the investigation of the first of the 11 (Mike Magrino)  investigated. 
These documents were leaked by former police officer Wykle Williams, a former internal affairs officer, former fireman/EMT Sam Tew, and a former lawyer involved in litigation against the department. Subsequent to denials made by the department of complaints of drug planting, another officer ( I granted anonymity ) leaked hundreds of internal documents, regional SBI / FBI documents, and sworn depositions proving Chief Steve Parrish had lied the public and media about the there being no complaints of drug planting. 
Grays' claims about widespread drug planting on young black men and wrongful prosecutions were initially corroborated by former city prosecutor Kalia Lane, who later recanted her statements. When documents in Keith Gray's lawsuit were made available by the federal court, curiously there was no mention of the racially targeted drug planting were in the list of what he testified to have observed while employed by the department. 

Gray's controversial allegation against the department were not without claims from victims in Dothan's black community that allege he was involved in the very drug planting he was accusing others of doing. 
Some of the victims claim Gray planted drugs and even gone as far as to have met with the mayor and federal agents. The NAACP who backed Gray for a local office refuses to acknowledge or attempt to help these alleged victims. Efforts to raise money by groups like Dothan for Justice Now and requests by the NAACP for a DOJ investigation omitted any reference to the victims alleging that Keith Gray had planted drugs and made unlawful arrests. Below is one victim in a church meeting describing his encounter with officer Gray.
In addition to Gray's claims, another black officer Raemonica Carney as fired for a series of issues most notable her public support of  A later federal lawsuit by Carney was dismissed as the judge found that Carney had violated the department's social media policy and engaged in gross insubordination. Carney while employed by the department as a program coordinator for the Community Watch program posted a series of controversial statements on Facebook in support of Christopher Dorner as he murdered 5 individuals of law enforcement and members of their families in retaliation for being fired from the Los Angles Police department, which he felt was racially motivated. Carney angrily compared the assault on Dorner in a barricaded cabin to slavery lynchings in south Alabama.
Gray and Carney's claims and the documents Gray arranged to be leaked of his investigation resulted in a year-long FBI investigation and found "no significant wrongdoing". But members of the black community from Atlanta and Dothan including a CBS radio personality Rashad Richey and activist Ruth Nelson refused to accept the lack of evidence of Gray's claims and promoted the narrative that the FBI are protecting the police department and are involved in a secret effort with the CIA to undermine the black community and keep it divided. They often citing historic programs by FBI director Hoover to monitor the civil rights leaders and take down the Black Panther Party and allege such efforts are ongoing.
In an atmosphere of shootings by law enforcement of unarmed black men and activism of groups like Black Lives Matter, along with retalitory targeting of white officers by black gangs, the conflict became hyperbolic. Dothan and this region of Alabama is one of the most socially conservative in the lower south and remains a highly segregated physical landscape. Within these communities there is an atmosphere of paranoia within the black community that is used to organize and control marginalized and vulnerable individuals exercised by it's own leaders. 
Gray's revelations even if untrue, proved to be the catalyst to bring forward nearly a hundred victims who alleged that had drugs planted on them and had been victims of police brutality that they believed was race motivated. This became the larger story I focused on documenting. Admittedly one an attorney would term hearsay and of no value in court. This point lost in the angry anti-corruption and anti-white rhetoric of those involved.
Spanning a three-year period, I photographed and interviewed members of the community while documenting their effort to gain national attention, initate a civil rights lawsuit and seek a Department of Justice takeover of the police department. In the nearly hundred people I interviewed only two victims appeared to have legal evidence that might could be used to prove a wrongful conviction or drug planting. The city settled one of those cases and reversed the wrongful conviction. But the stories of alleged victims ask questions about the system's ability to investigate potential wrongful prosecutions when their is no proof but mere allegations from former police officers. 
Ultimately no evidence emerged to qualify former officer Keith Gray, Raemonica Carney, or Wykle William's claims. No other officers, past or present, nor the State Bureau of Investigations, or FBI, could corroborate what they claimed was a systemic "targeting of black men numbering a thousand". None of the fellow members of the internal affairs department at the time had any knowledge of investigations opened into the narcotics squad pictured in the confederate flag photo for targeting black men.
In the end this came down to three individuals ( Gray, Williams and Carney ) who felt wronged and then sought revenge on those who they felt wronged them. The old adage of two wrongs do not make a right is appropriate.
                                                                                  Prayer offered at a rally for justice on the steps of City Hall. Dothan. 2017. © Jon B. Carroll
 On a personal note this project questions whether it is possible for an artist to separate factual observations from the value judgments of those witnessed. When the views of the subject of race are not what you witness there is ample salt thrown by those on each side of the Du Bois' color line. The self-assigned moral stance of the documentarian by nature acts selfishly, composition, light, and subject are a entirely different focus than a fight over who is racist and what is justice. The proposal / pitch I made to Highlander was to use my art to connect with / unearth / reveal / amplify those stakeholders in the community who's voices were marginalized. This process of upheaval pushed aside traditional leaders like T.O.P's Glasgow and the NAACP's AY Cotton who were compromised by those in power. Whether one agrees with the message of Minister LaTonya Dorsey, Kevin Saffold, Ruth Nelson, or Paul Carroll, their voices are actively enagaged in confronting the status quo. Voices that are authentic, born of experience and conviction, not political connections.
 A photographer bearing witness to such conflict leads to the moral briar patch of interpretation. But I remain convinced the story must tell itself, something south Alabama's media has always been unwilling to do when it comes to the subject of race.
LYNCH DOGS is documentary photography project that examines the public and hidden transcript of race in Dothan Alabama. Inquiries about the exhibition and forthcoming book can be made here. The project was funded in part by the Highlander Research and Education Center and the Open Society Foundation.
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