A city councilman in Jackson, Mississippi, set off a firestorm of disapproval Thursday when he urged citizens to lob projectiles such as bottles and bricks at the police when they cross county lines into their neighborhood.
Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he wants to send a message to police officers who enter Ward 3 from other jurisdictions in pursuit of criminals.
“Let’s get rocks; let’s get bricks, and let’s get bottles,” Stokes told reporters. “And we’ll start throwing them, and then they won’t come in here anymore.”
It was no one-off quip. Stokes repeated the suggestion to other local news outlets.
“When you have these police officers coming from other jurisdictions and they will not respect human life, then I said we should use rocks, bricks or bottles to try to get the message over: stop endangering our children,” Stokes told Jackson’s The Clarion-Ledger newspaper.
According to CNN, a recent chase involving a shoplifter who had assaulted people was the impetus for Stokes’ outrageous comments.
Officers from three towns chased a man who had shoplifted at a Walmart and assaulted people in the parking lot. Multiple police cars raced after the suspect through Jackson.
“It was a misdemeanor. They could easily break off the chase, get the tag number,” Stokes said. “We’ll pay for whatever they stole to make sure that our babies are not harmed. We want the same respect that they give to their neighborhoods given to Jackson neighborhoods.”
Needless to say, Stokes’ “rocks, bricks or bottles” strategy did not go over well with law enforcement officials in Mississippi, nor with the state’s governor and attorney general. The governor and county sheriffs have urged prosecutors to investigate the city councilman, while the attorney general has indicated that he will investigate the matter.
“Stokes…… I’m your huckleberry!” said Sheriff Randy Tucker from neighboring Madison County in a Facebook post.
Law Enforcement will not be intimidated by you. Any Madison county law enforcement that is attacked because of your ignorant statements, I will hold you responsible. I fully intend to contact the Ms Attorney General and inquire if your statements constitute assaults on officers by threat.
“If anybody carries out the act that this…this community servant just asked them to do, he’s liable,” Sheriff Tucker told WAPT. “In order for him to be liable, all he has to do is incite or encourage others to commit a crime,” Tucker added, reading from the state statute.
Gov. Phil Bryant also made a statement on Facebook.
“This is nothing short of an outright assault upon all who wear the badge. I will be asking Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate whether Mr. Stokes’ remarks represent criminal threats against law enforcement officers,” he said.
Lee County Sheriff Jim H. Johnson of Tupelo Miss., put out a lengthy statement, expressing his shock and dismay. He assured citizens that law enforcement will not be intimidated by the city councilman’s threat.
When I first saw the statement by Jackson City Councilman Stokes, I thought it was a hoax. I thought no one in a position such as that would make such a ludicrous statement. I then saw a report of the Jackson news and heard the statement when they interviewed him.
I would be embarrassed as a citizen of his district, to know that his opinion of law enforcement would result in such a comment.
Johnson wrote that in his 35-year career in law enforcement, he had “never seen the profession be subjected to such criticism.”
He also stated that he had personally contacted the FBI “to ensure they were aware of the statement and encouraged them to investigate any federal law that may have been violated.”
Finally, I also reached out to the sheriff whose department could be directly affected by this councilman’s comments. I offered any assistance we could give that could ensure the safety of the citizens in that area. I want to assure you that we will stand together to protect the citizens of our respective jurisdictions and the state of Mississippi, and we will not be intimidated by the comments made by the councilman.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said on Facebook that he would investigate any complaints received in the matter.
Comments or actions that put our law enforcement officers in harm’s way cannot be tolerated. Frustration or dissatisfaction with police policies or procedures does not give any person, especially an elected official, the right to jeopardize the safety of officers. We should instead be focused on cooperation and mutual respect between citizens and law enforcement. Certainly, the Office of Attorney General will investigate any complaint received in this or any other matter.