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The City of Anniston, Alabama, placed two police officers on administrative leave Wednesday, following a watchdog group's article alleging the pair are members of an organization described as a hate group.
The article, published on the Southern Poverty Law Center blog Hatewatch, states Lt. Josh Doggrell and Lt. Wayne Brown belong to the League of the South, a group the organization describes as "neo-Confederate." According to the watchdog, the League advocates for a Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.”
The city responded to the article by placing the two on leave and starting an investigation, according to a statement released by spokeswoman Aziza Jackson.
"After being made aware of the Wednesday, June 17 article by the SPLC, the City of Anniston is taking the allegations made against Lt. Brown and Lt. Doggrell very seriously and have placed both officers on administrative leave. Lt. Brown and Lt. Doggrell do not speak for the City of Anniston nor the Anniston Police Department. The City of Anniston has commenced an investigation into this matter and will work diligently to ensure the appropriate action is taken."
The Southern Poverty Law Center article is mostly centered on Doggrell's membership and includes a video of a speech he gave at a League of the South conference in 2013. According to the article, Brown joined him at the conference.
A blurb on the website describing Doggrell's role in the organization reads, "Josh is the chairman of the John C. Calhoun Chapter of the League of the South and has been since its inception in March 2009. Josh has been a member of the League of South (the League was formed in late 1994) since the fall of 1995."
In his speech, Doggrell described a conversation he had at one point with his chief at the Anniston Police Department, in which he brought up his League ties.
“I’m not going to sell out my position with the League, as something I believe in strongly. If it came down to it, I’d choose the League,” Doggrell told the audience he said to the chief.
“We pretty much think like you do," Doggrell said the chief responded.