Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Mississippi Lynching

Friday September 15th, 2006 found Jackson's mayor Frank Melton surrendering to the Hinds County Sheriff after the county prosecutor Faye Peterson's impaneled Grand Jury brought five charges against Mayor Melton in regards to events that occurred on August 26, 2006 when Melton and his entourage, including two police officers, busted up a suspected crack house with sledgehammers. Just the day before, September 14th, did the Hinds County Sheriff's Department wrap up its investigation.

The speed of these indictments has brought suspicion upon Peterson's office that these are politically motivated charges. When someone asked Peterson when was the last time charges were brought so quickly she snapped "I am not that old."

As Evers, a supporter of Melton, said "If things were this speedy, there would be no crime in Jackson."

Many people in Jackson on Friday had to pick their jaws up when Kenneth Stokes, a city council member, came to Melton's defense and said the duplex in question was a crack house and that Melton was doing what needed to be done. For those just joining the broadcast, Kenneth Stokes has always been a junior Al Sharpton that many disagreed with, so it came as a shock to these people to finding themselves in agreement with Mr. Stokes.

At this point, Mayor Melton does not plan to step down. Which is causing distress among his many detractors. The conditions of the bail for Melton are somewhat unusual. Turning in the police equipment is understandable. Not to leave the country is boilerplate. No drugs or alcohol? Mellton is on blood pressure medication so alcohol can kill him, so I guess someone is trying to paint Melton as a drug addict. The last stipulation is no minors in the house with Melton. This last is a stab it seems at Melton's personal passion on helping troubled youth that extends back to his own youthful years at a YMCA helping other kids. Even when Melton owned WLBT TV station, he would try to rehabilitate junveniles by giving them jobs at the station, unfortunately his kindness was usually paid back with petty theft.

Dale Danks, former mayor of Jackson, is representing Mayor Melton in this case. He is also representing the two police officers who were also indicted. Danks has noted there are problems with the indictments, one of the most glaring is Officer Reico is named on one but omitted on another even though both refer to the same August 26th incident at the duplex.

Has Mayor Melton been out of control? Probably. But the city of Jackson has been dyeing for years and no one has done anything. In the late 90s the FBI indicted two council members on trying to corner the city cable-TV business. Later on, one council member was robbed. Crime itself has crept into the more genteel areas of Jackson, which raised the ire against former Mayor Harvey Johnson; who strangely announced on September 11th he is interested in becoming mayor again. So last year Melton got elected on a platform of getting tough on crime. And he has been swooping all over Jackson, sometimes with media in tow, playing police officer.

And now this. All the pathos and tragedy of a Greek play in Jackson, Mississippi.

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