Lawsuit accuses officials of racial bias in water project

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A federal lawsuit accuses officials in a north Louisiana parish of discriminating against black residents for decades by allegedly failing to provide them with clean water and other services that their white neighbors get.

Two black Winnsboro residents sued the Franklin Parish Police Jury on Thursday, claiming its members have ignored their need for safer drinking water, paved roads and adequate sewer service.

The lawsuit says the state Office of Community Development awarded nearly $340,000 to the police jury in 2012 to provide water and waste services to low-income residents. But the suit claims parish officials intentionally delayed construction work that was supposed to be funded by the award.

The police jury's attorney said the suit's allegations are false and denied parish officials have engaged in any racial bias.