- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union lambasted a local police captain after he released a video calling members of a violent gang “heathens.”

Capt. Clay Higgins of the Acadiana Sheriff’s Office released a video to rally law enforcement and the community against the so-called “Gremlins gang,” which has been accused of murder, theft and other drug related crimes, according to a local ABC News affiliate.

“You will be hunted. You will be trapped. And if you raise your weapons to a man like me, we’ll return fire with superior fire,” Capt. Higgins says in the video, holding a semi-automatic rifle.

The video is part of a Crime Stoppers series that Capt. Higgins helps produce as part of his role as public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

In the video, Capt. Higgins urges the public to help law enforcement find the remaining seven suspects and put them behind bars.

“The Gremlin street gang is all bad. And the fact that they’re so extremely violent, every day that they’re lose is a danger to the community,” he told ABC.

In the video, Capt. Higgins urges community members to come forward with information about these “heathens,” a term that struck a chord with local ACLU members, who blasted Capt. Higgins for using a religious term to describe the suspects.

“‘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 ACLU said in a statement, ABC reported.

“And even if it’s true that these individuals, or some of them, are religiously ‘heathen,’ that is of no consequence to their status as criminal suspects,” the statement continues. “Unless Mr. Higgins believes that all law-abiding people share his personal religious faith — and if he does believe that, he should not be an officer of the law — to call someone a ‘heathen’ and equate that to ‘criminal’ is simply insulting, wrong, and potentially a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Capt. Higgins has challenged the ACLU to a debate on the issue, but so far there has been no indication if or when that debate will take place.

“Those guys at the ACLU, for them to accuse me of being some kind of redneck thug who has no concept of constitutional rights, they just haven’t researched me,” Capt. Higgins said.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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