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:
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.