Video: Jackson, MS councilman urges residents to throw rocks at police

posted at 4:01 pm on January 2, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

In the wake of several high-profile clashes between metropolitan police forces and the communities they serve, many have tried to find ways to bridge the gap between the two and achieve better harmony in civil life. One city councilman in Mississippi has a different idea: why not just start a war and be done with it? Give Jackson’s Kenneth Stokes a point for originality — and take away several thousand points for utter stupidity:

Today the councilman told reporters that police from surrounding cities put Jackson children in danger when they chase people on neighborhood streets. He says he’d like black leadership to team up and use force.

“What I suggest is we get the black leadership together, and as these jurisdictions come into Jackson we throw rocks and bricks and bottles at them. That will send a message we don’t want you in here,” he says.

WLBT, which aired the original remarks, immediately got feedback from Stokes’ constituents, and it probably wasn’t what Stokes envisioned:

MSNewsNow.com – Jackson, MS

As it turns out, law enforcement has some feedback for Stokes, too:

Suddenly, Councilman Stokes seems a lot less interested in posing before news cameras. Perhaps an attorney filled in Stokes on his liability for incitement to violence, a point raised in the above video. Stokes might find himself sitting in jail if any of his constituents take him up on his challenge. It might normally be difficult to win a conviction against a politician on those grounds, but Stokes made it a lot easier than it normally would be by being so specific. Most demagogues take care to couch their intent in more ambiguous terms for later deniability; “I meant ‘rise up’ politically, your honor!” This is clearly an incitement to violence and riot. Even if Stokes eventually beat the rap, an arrest after a few rocks and bottles fly will send Stokes a message rather than the other way around.

Besides, the people who need the police more than most are those in the poorer neighborhoods that Stokes purports to champion. While it’s also true that abuses (and/or allegations of such) tend to take place more often in those areas, the people who live there get victimized by crime much more than other areas, too. They need an effective police force, one that works with their community — not a police force that gets attacked whenever they make an appearance. Stokes just made it more likely that those people will be harmed either by violence erupting in a riot against police, or by a lack of effective police response due to worries over the potential for people to follow Stokes’ call for violence.

Golly, if only Stokes had a position with authority over police in that area where constructive efforts might improve everyone’s lives … if only ….

Let’s hope the people of Jackson’s Ward 3 make a new year’s resolution to recall Stokes and replace him with someone more serious. Or at least someone less dangerous.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Note that he suggests black leadership lead the community in throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles. That’s not just incitement. It’s volunteering to get things started.

Sounds like a clear case of inciting to violence. Of course, he’s going to backtrack in a big way, because he was just being a blowhard. Sadly, he’s not the only idiot on the Jackson City Council.

Oh, and I can confirm for rogerb that Jackson is firmly in Democratic hands, and has been for a long time. They had a mayor a while back who was determined to do something about crime, and the Jackson City Council fought him all the way to the end.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:09 PM

He wasn’t talking about JPD. He was talking about cops from other cities driving like maniacs into Jackson, endangering the people in his ward, all in order to bring petty shoplifters “to justice”.

When cops start acting like peace officers and stop acting like the roided-up adrenaline junkies they are, then I’ll happily call Kenneth Stokes out for being the ass that he is. And yes, Kenneth Stokes is a corrupt j-hole. Still doesn’t make him wrong on this point.

spmat on January 2, 2016 at 10:52 PM

He was absolutely, completely, even criminally wrong on this point. If you can’t see that, you’re as big an idiot as he is.

It’s a fair point that some car chases are dangerous, and worse than letting the criminal get away. It’s even a fair point to protest a car chase that crosses into another jurisdiction.

None of that changes the fact that Stokes said something stupid, and no one should defend him for it.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:12 PM

Sugarbuzz on January 2, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Ya…me too.

Mimzey on January 2, 2016 at 11:13 PM

Looks like the councilman is already guilty of solicitation of assault even if no one throws any rocks.

talkingpoints on January 2, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Nope. Unless the violence occurs imminently, then the councilman was simply exercising free speech. If you don’t like it, then try to get Brandenburg v. Ohio overturned.

blink on January 2, 2016 at 8:50 PM

If you pay attention to what Stokes actually said, it’s clear he was volunteering to lead the way in throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles the next time something like this happens.

So it wouldn’t make sense to apply a standard of whether violence occurs imminently after his statement. The question would be whether violence occurred imminently after a repeat of the event, which may or may not happen. There’s enough gray area that it would make sense to ask the Attorney General whether it would make sense to charge him. Which is exactly what the sheriff is asking.

Of course, if the incident does repeat and the residents of the city then act like Stokes has suggested, then you’ve got a stronger cause-and-effect argument for incitement. But how likely is that?

Whether or not he can be tried for incitement, though, is a criminal question, and not one the sheriff can make. But aside from the question of criminal charges, he can — and should — pay the price politically. I’d say there’s a good chance of censure from the Jackson City Council, for what it’s worth. He’s made himself look like a fool, which is never good news for a politician.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:36 PM

Hank Johnson, writ small.

garnkikaloid on January 2, 2016 at 11:56 PM

I think everyone knows who nonpartisan is, a puke racist politician from MS.

bbinfl on January 3, 2016 at 2:10 AM

IQ 70. And for you Leftist criers out there, I don’t say that because he’s black. I say that because his IQ is clearly 70.

Grace_is_sufficient on January 3, 2016 at 5:28 AM

I’m originally from there. He’s been doing crap like this for years.

NoFanofLibs on January 3, 2016 at 7:52 AM

Is he representing the thoughts of his constituents?

mad scientist on January 2, 2016 at 4:15 PM

In his case, he is. That is how they think there

NoFanofLibs on January 3, 2016 at 7:54 AM

Sounds like a clear case of inciting to violence.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:09 PM

Not according to the supreme court tests in Brandenburg.

Of course, if the incident does repeat and the residents of the city then act like Stokes has suggested, then you’ve got a stronger cause-and-effect argument for incitement.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:36 PM

Not according to Brandenburg.

Whether or not he can be tried for incitement, though, is a criminal question, and not one the sheriff can make.

That’s not true. The courts are consistent in denying qualified immunity in civil rights lawsuits when the cops have had time to know that they are enforcing an illegal law. Brandenburg was in 1969, and it is well established case law.

It’s not exactly the same situation as Brandenburg, since he wasn’t inciting to immediate riot, and since he strongly implied taking action himself to lead a riot if police from a neighboring city ever followed a criminal into his city again.

From the Wikipedia article describing the Brandenburg decision:

Finally, Douglas dealt with the classic example of a man “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic”. In order to explain why someone could be legitimately prosecuted for this, Douglas called it an example in which “speech is brigaded with action”. In the view of Douglas and Black, this was probably the only sort of case in which a person could be prosecuted for speech.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

Court decisions like Brandenburg are based on a particular set of circumstances. The circumstances are different here. That’s why they propose a test to decide similar cases in the future. In the case of Brandenburg, the required elements were intent to provoke action, imminence of action, and likelihood. Since he was volunteering to lead the action of throwing rocks and bricks, it could feasibly be interpreted as being similar to “falsely shouting fire in a theater.”

Anyway, the sensible thing to do if a sheriff has some doubt is to get an opinion from a lawyer, like the state Attorney General. It seems likely that the man can’t be directly charged, but it’s not necessarily cut-and-dried obvious. The sheriff doesn’t have to be an expert in such laws, as long as he seeks expert advice when in doubt.

Then again, if the idiot councilman’s incitement to violence is protected free speech, then surely whatever the sheriff said is free speech. Especially since he never suggested taking any sort of action without the advice and approval of the state Attorney General.

But aside from the question of criminal charges, he can — and should — pay the price politically. I’d say there’s a good chance of censure from the Jackson City Council, for what it’s worth. He’s made himself look like a fool, which is never good news for a politician.

Yeah, that’s fine. He’s basically telling his constituents to act like palestinian mobs. It’s bad enough that it happens over there, it doesn’t have any place here.

blink on January 3, 2016 at 4:18 AM

Ultimately, it’s a political issue. There’s not a shadow of doubt that he’s inciting to violence, regardless of whether he can be successfully prosecuted for it. I hope he gets censured by the Jackson City Council for the schadenfreude value alone.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 3, 2016 at 3:06 PM

You know, this whole inciting to riot this is just a way to suppress people. Let’s just forget about it. Nothing to see here. Move on.

billrowe on January 3, 2016 at 4:49 PM

Besides, the people who need the police more than most are those in the poorer neighborhoods that Stokes purports to champion. While it’s also true that abuses (and/or allegations of such) tend to take place more often in those areas, the people who live there get victimized by crime much more than other areas, too. They need an effective police force, one that works with their community — not a police force that gets attacked whenever they make an appearance.

I’m going to disagree with you, Ed. They don’t need an effective police force, they need an effective citizenry. They need a moral citizenry that will take responsibility for their community and act as free citizens in a community should. Only then can you truly have an effective police force – and it won’t have to be very large.
If you bring in an “effective” police force without that pre-condition, all you will get is someone imposing their rule on the people of that community. Police *must* be of the community in a free society.

When cops start acting like peace officers and stop acting like the roided-up adrenaline junkies they are,

spmat on January 2, 2016 at 10:52 PM

And, again, with folks painting all police as jerks and such.

He’s made himself look like a fool tool, which is never good news for anyone except a politician.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 2, 2016 at 11:36 PM

Minor fix, I think.

Not so fast. The sheriff councilman is making statements as a government official. He’s trying to control behavior sanctioned by the law through the threat of illegal prosecution riot. That shouldn’t be allowed.

blink on January 3, 2016 at 3:36 PM

FIFY

GWB on January 3, 2016 at 5:05 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 3, 2016 at 3:06 PM

You’re grasping for something here. Are you trying to say that he could be prosecuted for making threats? I doubt those charges would stick either.

Hardly. Just pointing out that court decisions establish principles of interpretation precisely because every case involves different participants and circumstances. Therefore, they try to establish the common principles, and a lawyer’s job is partly to argue why the decision in one case does or does not apply to another.

if the idiot councilman’s incitement to violence is protected free speech,…

And it is.

then surely whatever the sheriff said is free speech.

Not so fast. The sheriff is making statements as a government official. He’s trying to control behavior through the threat of illegal prosecution. That shouldn’t be allowed.

blink on January 3, 2016 at 3:36 PM

The city councilman is also making statements as a government official, and trying to control behavior through the threat of illegal riots. Even by your own argument, one can’t be free speech unless the other is.

Except the sheriff is not threatening illegal prosecution. The very fact that he’s appealing to the state Attorney General to determine whether he can pursue the charge tells you he’s acting completely within the law. You can’t really get a more clear statement that the sheriff intends to follow the law than the statement that he will first ask what the law does and does not allow.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 3, 2016 at 11:46 PM

Just pointing out that court decisions establish principles of interpretation precisely because every case involves different participants and circumstances. Therefore, they try to establish the common principles, and a lawyer’s job is partly to argue why the decision in one case does or does not apply to another.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 3, 2016 at 11:46 PM

Brandenburg clearly applies here. You’d be laughed out of court for arguing that it doesn’t.

Different circumstances, different actors. Brandenburg established a three-prong test. The question of whether it applies is determined by whether those three tests fit the case.

The city councilman is also making statements as a government official

The councilman has zero executive authority. He didn’t make any threats about misusing government power.

It doesn’t take executive authority to use your position in the government to instigate a riot.

The sheriff is making statements as a government official. He’s trying to control behavior through the threat of illegal prosecution. That shouldn’t be allowed.

This charge is absurd. How can he be threatening an illegal prosecution when the first thing he says is that he will check with the attorney general about what the law allows? There is no threat of an illegal prosecution. On the contrary, he threatens to pursue prosecution if it is legal.

Of the two, it is clearly the councilman who is making threats of illegal actions as a government official. The fact that he has no executive authority in fact confirms the illegal nature of his threat.

Except the sheriff is not threatening illegal prosecution.

He most certainly is.

He most certainly is not. How many people start a crime by asking for an opinion from the attorney general whether the action is legal? If anything, he is announcing that he will take no action unless it is legal.

The very fact that he’s appealing to the state Attorney General to determine whether he can pursue the charge tells you he’s acting completely within the law.

He made the threat.

blink on January 4, 2016 at 3:18 PM

The city councilman made the threat. It’s amazing how all this blame gets aimed at the one man who specifically announces he will respect the law.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 4, 2016 at 10:17 PM

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