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A spirited video statement from the captain of a Louisiana sheriff's office targeting gang members has sparked backlash from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Capt. Clay Higgins of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office created the video with local TV station KATC, which broadcast it. In the video, Higgins and the dozens of officers standing behind him are holding large guns, as the captain issues a stern warning to fugitive members of the so-called Gremlins gang. KATC posted the video on their Facebook page on Wednesday, and it has since been viewed more than 15 million times.
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"You will be hunted, you will be trapped, and if you raise a weapon to a man like me, we’ll return fire with superior fire," Higgins tells seven gang members, who are on the run. The gang members are identified in the video, and were also identified in December by the Louisiana State Police when 10 other members of the gang were arrested on racketeering charges.
Higgins called out one of the fugitives specifically. "Darren carter, you think men like these are afraid of an uneducated, 125-pound punk like you that’s never won a fair fight in your life and holds your gun sideways," Higgins said. "Men like us, son, we do dumbbell presses with weights bigger than you."
Higgins then appeals to the public: "Come forward with information about these heathens that have terrorized your community."
In a statement sent to KATC and later shared with NBC News, the ACLU of Louisiana said "nothing that Mr. Higgins said will make his community safer, but there is much to suggest violations of fundamental rights of all."
The group had a particular problem with Higgins' use of the word "heathens."
"'Heathen' is a religious term, and unless Mr. Higgins has specific information about the religious beliefs of those individuals, it is both inappropriate and incorrect," the statement said.
Higgins, in the video, said he didn't want his message to be used "as a way to create false racial division in our country," and pointed out that there was a "leader in our black community" standing with each armed officer in the background.