Councilman proposes requesting Miss. National Guard to reduce violent crime in Jackson

Kenneth I. Stokes said the move would only happen if an agreement to provide additional deputies isn’t reached with Hinds County
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 9:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - With homicides surging 38 percent over the same period last year, a Jackson city councilman proposes bringing in Mississippi National Guard troops to help keep the peace and curb violent crime, a last-ditch effort to provide additional manpower to offset the Jackson Police Department’s officer shortage.

When asked if the strategies already in place have had an impact, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes shakes his head.

“I don’t see it working. But, you know, my suggestion has always been, let’s get some sheriffs out here, where they see more police presence, or more law enforcement presence,” Stokes said. “If that does not work, my suggestion then was to move toward the National Guard. Now I’m at that point now, because we can’t keep waiting, cause people keep losing lives.”

With two more homicides in the last twenty-four hours, the month of June ties with other months in recent years as the third-deadliest month in the city’s history, with 14 homicides taking place in the last 28 days.

The most recent took place Monday morning, after a drive-by shooting led to 30-year-old Christopher Thomas losing control of his vehicle on Livingston Road.

Thomas ended up smashing into a building, startling the owner, who had just arrived for the day.

“I thought I had a break in. I look, I check my shop, I just, you know, no cars missing, no tubes missing. But the air conditioning wasn’t working. So I went to the side of the building to see had anybody stole my air conditioner. Then I saw a car had jumped this ditch, came to Jackson Housing Authority and had landed on top of my AC unit and plowed inside of my building,” said Ernest Stanton Sr., who owns Stanton Body Shop.

Stanton saw firsthand Monday morning the violence that has gripped the Capital City for months on end.

Thomas died shortly after crashing into the side of the structure.

“Somebody’s life is gone for nonsense, something that could have been worked out. And so if we don’t find a solution as to how to work out differently than with others, they’re gonna continue to happen like this,” Stanton said. “I’m gonna fix the building, but I hate it for the young man. I hate it for the family. I’ve been here 25 years and they’ve been a good location and I don’t regret being here. I love the area. But I hate the crime.”

Thomas’ killing happened in Stokes’ ward.

Though Stokes and other council members already approved and appropriated half a million dollars to bring extra Hinds County deputies to Jackson months ago, it has yet to materialize because legal staff from the city, county and sheriff’s department still haven’t hammered out an agreement.

“We cannot sit back, sit idly by and watch people keep dying in Jackson, Mississippi,” Stokes said.

The longtime councilman said the resolution to bring the National Guard will be on Tuesday’s council meeting, but he’s unsure how the vote will go.

Tuesday’s council meeting will be the first with newly-elected councilmembers Vernon Hartley and Brian Grizzell.

When asked what the turning point would have to be for the city and police department to get tougher on crime, Stokes said the “right people” haven’t been hurt yet.

“As soon as the right people get hurt, all that will change. Right now, the majority of people getting hurt are poor and are Black. And it seems that no one cares but Kenny Stokes,” he said. “You let the wrong person, somebody with some influence, get robbed or hurt, then all the money we put for jail space, all the money we put for sheriffs [deputies], that would be happening instantaneously.”

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