On August 31 2022, an Imgur account shared a screenshot of what appeared to be a news report that an Alabama police force had been entirely disbanded “after a racist text message” came to light:
A source for the Imgur post wasn’t immediately apparent, but it matched an August 31 2022 Techdirt.com article. Text in the screenshot showed the headline and first few paragraphs:
Alabama Town Disbands Police Force After Racist Text Message Surfaces
from the racists-in-Alabama???-oh-my-word dept
Wed, Aug 31st 2022 03:31pm – Tim Cushing
Were you ever so terrible at your job that your entire place of employment was put out of business?
Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that none of you are that inept or unprofessional. But it only takes one bad apple to result in the tossing of the whole bunch, provided that the barrel of law enforcement apples is small enough.
Vincent, Alabama (until recently) was home to a small police force. One officer, who has yet to be named, sent out a text message pretty much everyone (including the overseers of the town of 2,000) found to be racist.
AL.com published a screenshot of the text.
Part of the last sentence in the excerpt was hyperlinked, and that pointed to an August 2 2022 AL.com article, “‘Appropriate disciplinary action’ taken against Vincent police officer who texted racist joke.” It reported:
“Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken” against a Vincent police officer who sent a text message containing a racist joke, said Police Chief James Srygley.
“We have conducted an internal investigation and the appropriate disciplinary action has been taken,” the chief said in a text message to AL.com on Tuesday [August 2 2022].
Later in the article, Techdirt linked to an August 7 2022 piece by The Guardian (“Alabama city disbands police force after racist text messages revealed,”) indicating that the controversy did not end with the “appropriate disciplinary action” described five days prior:
The small city of Vincent in Alabama has voted to disband its police force after the revelation of racist text messages exchanged between two of its officers.
… on Thursday [August 4 2022], [Police Chief James] Srygley himself was identified as one of the officers who was terminated. Assistant chief John L Goss was also terminated, and the city council then voted to disband the whole department.
On Friday [August 5 2022], the sheriff’s office of Shelby county said in a statement they “condemn these actions” and their office was helping the citizens with emergency law enforcement service.
The New York Times also covered the decision to disband the police force in Vincent, Alabama. Their August 6 2022 coverage noted that the force had been exceptionally small, consisting of three people in total:
Pending an investigation into the text message, the City Council in Vincent, Ala., suspended the police chief and assistant chief at a meeting on Thursday [August 4 2022] and moved to dissolve the department, the mayor, James Latimer, said on Saturday [August 6 2022]. After that decision, the remaining member of the department resigned, the mayor said.
“This has torn this community apart,” a member of the City Council, Corey Abrams, said at the meeting, according to AL.com, which reported this week [of August 1 2022] on the text message. Mr. Latimer said the assistant chief, John L. Goss, had sent the message, an offensive remark about slavery.
An August 31 2022 Imgur post (still popular the following day) suggested that an entire Alabama town disbanded its police force after one officer sent a racist text message. The post referenced an August 31 2022 Techdirt.com article. Events described in the piece occurred between August 2 and 7 2022, and the Vincent, Alabama police force consisted of three people in total. After its small department was disbanded, the nearby Shelby County Sheriff’s Office extended its operations to handle law enforcement in the jurisdiction.