A frightening event happened March 28 on an Alabama highway. The event has received no national attention apart from a lone story in the Macon Beacon in Macon, Mississippi. Not only was the event frightening, but the response — or lack thereof — by Alabama law enforcement authorities was almost as frightening. The local media, including the Birmingham News, failed to cover the shocking attack. With the flurry of national media attention the Trayvon Martin killing has received, why hasn’t the daylight stabbing of Nick Stokes received any attention?
Your first guess might be right.
Typically PJ Media doesn’t republish stories, but the Macon Beacon is a weekly paper with no website. Outside of subscribers in one rural Mississippi county, the story below has never been published. From the April 5 Beacon:
Daylight Highway Stabbing by Black Motorcycle Gang
By Scott Boyd
Nick Stokes says the knife that was used to stab him was a big one. “I got a good look at it,” he said. “It was a black dagger-type knife, with a blade about six inches long.”
Stokes, a Brooksville-based truck driver, is telling about his recent harrowing road-rage experience with an Alabama motorcycle gang.
Stokes, with neighbor Johnathan Cooper riding shotgun, was headed north out of Birmingham March 28, hauling a portable cabin for Graceland buildings of Artesia.
“I had noticed the motorcycle traveling close behind us, but didn’t pay too much attention to him until I noticed him pulling alongside, trying to get us to pull over,” said Stokes.
Stokes would later find out that the motorcyclist, a member of the notorious “Outcasts of Alabama,” was angered over flying gravel. “One of my trailer tires slipped off the pavement as we went around a curve on the Minor Parkway and it must have slung some gravel,” said Stokes.
Stokes tells the story like this: The motorcyclist then sped up and pulled in front of Stokes F-250. He stopped in the middle of the road and forced Stokes to stop. He then jumped off his bike and came around to the passenger side and hit the rear passenger window with his fist but it didn’t break. Stokes then made the quick decision to get out of there and pulled out around the parked motorcycle.
Stokes said he looked back in his rear-view as he pulled away and noticed the biker rolling in the highway. “He either tried to jump in the back of the truck or onto the trailer and somehow slipped.”
Stokes said when he noticed the injured man flailing in the roadway he stopped, worried about leaving the scene of an accident. Stokes said he was getting out of his truck to go check on Clay when a woman in a red Jeep pulled alongside and shouted a warning: “You better get out of here — they’ve got guns.” That’s when Stokes looked back down the highway and some the motorcycle gang — 30 or 40 bikes strong — headed his way. “I jumped back in the truck and took off until I could find a busy intersection and that’s where I stopped.”
Stokes said he and Cooper were immediately surrounded by a gang of black bikers, all with black bandanas covering the bottom half of their faces.
The gang forced him out of the truck and commenced their revenge attack. “After I saw the knife and then felt the stabbings I fell to the ground and played dead — I think that may have saved my life,” he said.
Within seconds of falling to the ground he heard the approaching sirens. Cooper had been on the cell phone with a 911 operator. The bikers calmly mounted their rides and left the scene. Not a single biker was stopped and detained, or even questioned.
Stokes has a copy of the police report prepared by the Adamsville, Ala. Police Department. It identifies Ladarrious Clay of Birmingham as the injured biker. It also reports that he handed off his pistols to a fellow biker before the police and ambulance arrived.
Stokes was transported to the UAB hospital where he received 15 stitches to close up the two stab wounds. “They kept me until about 11 p.m.,” he said.
A representative from the portable building dealer in the area came to pick up Cooper and Stokes’ rig. He took Cooper to the hospital to check on Stokes.
Now a college student, Cooper has faced numerous challenges in life. He is a cancer survivor, stricken as a young child. He says the road rage incident had him fearing for his life once again. “One of the bikers saw me in the truck talking on my cell phone with the 911 operator and he jumped in the truck and told me to put the phone down. That’s when I thought I would be next.”
Stokes said he didn’t do anything to provoke the attack. No cursing, no obscene gestures. Just loose gravel. “The police told me there was really nothing they could do, that it would be almost impossible to identify the knife-wielding suspect. “They indicated to me that they don’t mess with the Outcast gang and their members,” he said.
Stokes said he spent the remainder of the weekend in the Birmingham area so he could visit the FBI office that Monday morning. “They listened to me and took my information down and that was about it,” said Stokes. He said this week that he has since received a phone call from the Birmingham FBI office promising an investigation. Stokes said he thinks someone should be charged with attempted murder.
The Beacon has attempted to contact the Adamsville Police Department. They’ve referred all questions to their public affairs officer, and as of presstime Tuesday the officer had not returned the call.
Stokes says the incident was eye-opening for him. “I wish I would have done more to keep from stopping,” he says. “Next time I’m going to keep driving, following my GPS to the nearest police station and I recommend that’s what anyone else in a similar situation do,” he said. “I lived through it, but the next person might not be so lucky.”
Boyd tells me he contacted the crime beat reporter at the Birmingham News and told her about his story. “Not newsworthy,” was her response. Boyd also tells me that law enforcement officials told Boyd they “don’t mess with the Outcasts of Alabama.” Comforting.
Had the attackers been the Confederate Hammerskins, and the victim been different, we all know (at a minimum) the Birmingham News would have covered the story. DOJ lawyers would be checking on the contract air carrier from Washington to Birmingham. I’ll wager even Soledad O’Brien would have spent at least one show on the attack.
It is precarious when the law, and attention from the media, are so out of balance. When state law enforcement officials flinch from prosecutions of the black Outcasts of Alabama, and national media organizations ignore some violence while elevating other incidents to month-long stories, the rule of law suffers.
Uniform outrage to incidents of lawlessness should guide the police, the Justice Department, and the hearts of every American. Selective outrage toward lawlessness empowers the thugs you chose to ignore.
The Beacon is a leader in reporting on violence and corruption in parts of the south. In my book Injustice, I singled out the paper for excellent reporting on the activities of Ike Brown in Noxubee County, Mississippi: “Published by Scott Boyd, the Beacon had been fearlessly and relentlessly covering Brown’s antics for years. While the national media was primarily interested in questioning the Bush administration’s decision to bring the case in the first place, the Beacon diligently memorialized crucial political events and reported the straight facts.”
Let’s see if the attack by a black motorcycle gang on an Alabama highway in broad daylight gets any more media or law enforcement attention now that the information is here for the asking. I won’t hold my breath.
UPDATE: The Birmingham News now finds the story newsworthy, about 7 hours after PJ Media first published the story, and at least a week after the Birmingham News, didn’t.