Questions about legal action arise from Stokes' comments on cops - - Jackson, MS

Questions about legal action arise from Stokes' comments on cops

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The firestorm of controversy from Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes' comments intensified this weekend from law enforcement officers across Mississippi. 

Stokes told reporters Thursday that residents should throw rocks and bottles at police.

While many may support the reasons behind the words, keeping police chases out of the Capital City, others say encouraging violence against police is criminal.

"Throw rocks, bricks and bottles at them. That will send a message we don't want you in here," Stokes said.

The words Stokes used Thursday have been called everything from reprehensible to racist.

His statement is borne out of a longstanding disagreement between the city of Jackson and other law enforcement agencies outside the city when it comes to police chases that come into Jackson neighborhoods.
"To have somebody who has a following like Mr. Stokes to, what it seems like in our eyes, incite his constituents or people he has some sway over to violence towards police officers when we've seen that time and time again nationally is a very disturbing thing," Richland Police Chief Russel James said.

Now comes the question of legality: whether Stokes can be held liable for what he said.

"I believe definitely he could be held civilly liable, and be penalized monetarily. There may be criminal statutes that the attorney general's office or the Hinds County DA's office could look at bringing against Mr. Stokes," Rankin/Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said.

Gov. Phil Bryant wants Attorney General Jim Hood to see whether those remarks "represent criminal threats against law enforcement officers."

Hood released a statement on Facebook saying his office would investigate any complaint received in this matter.

In addition, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson says he has contacted the FBI to ask them to see whether any federal laws were also violated.

"What I hope and pray and what these gentlemen behind me hope and pray is that people will ignore the words of Councilman Stokes," Guest said.

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