A consortium of Hamilton County pastors on Monday called for "the immediate resignation" of Sheriff Jim Hammond over the handling of a recent drug search by two deputies.
The group, in a press conference in front of the jail, also called for the firing of Deputy Sheriffs Daniel Wilkey and Bobby Brewer "after the latest incident of the alleged beating and forceful search through the anus of an African American man on the side of a dark road, while in handcuffs."
Sheriff Hammond has denied that the arrest of James Myron Mitchell involved a cavity search. He also said the two deputies followed department procedure during the arrest.
Sheriff Hammond is not planning to seek re-election in 2022 and is backing Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.
The ministers said, "We are outraged at the egregious acts perpetuated on people of color in Hamilton County under the control of Sheriff Jim Hammond, especially the acts toward African American men, such as Mr. Myron Mitchell encountered last week."
They said "as representatives of God, we cannot sit idly and watch the injustices that are flagrantly placed on God’s people. Micah 6:8 cries to us to step forward and do what is right and just and to model the call of the scriptures in our lives and our ministry.
"There are too many instances of law enforcement using policies that crush the rights of the citizens who are to be protected. In addition, we demand the restructuring of the operation of the Sheriff’s department and the development of policies that recognize the importance of what is right and just.
"Just six months ago, the community watched the video of Mr. Toney as he was beaten while handcuffed; and now we have another video with another black man, Mr. Mitchell, being beaten under Sheriff Jim Hammond’s direct control. God calls us to speak to and for our people who trust us to minister to them and their families. On this day we declare enough is enough."
Rev. Paul McDaniel, former County Commission member, was among those taking part in the press conference.