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Jackson councilman responds to WLBT analysis showing more homicides in his ward than any other

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 8:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes wants greater police presence in his ward after a 3 On Your Side investigation revealed Stokes’ ward has more killings than any other in the Capital City.

Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes says he wants more police presence to help stop gun violence in his ward.

“If I was the chief of police, what I would do I send somebody to have these goon squads to take the guns off the street,” Stokes said. “But I’m not the chief of police. I’m a councilman. I make laws.”

On Monday, a 3 On Your Side analysis tracked each of the city’s 97 homicides that have taken place so far this year, plotting the ward in which they occurred.

The three deadliest wards were Ward 3 (25), Ward 7 (24), and Ward 5 (20).

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the common theme in Wards 3 and 7 is poverty.

“Typically, wherever you see high poverty, you see high crime. I know that we have a significant rate of poverty in Ward 3, and Ward 7 is more vast, vastly spread out throughout the city than some people may give it credit for being,” Lumumba said.

Lumumba said poverty and other factors are root causes he wants to address.

He also supports better pay for JPD officers and new technology to help fight crime as budget talks in the city continue.

Lumumba said Stokes has yet to reach out to him or JPD for help.

“After several years of trying to communicate with Councilman Stokes, that isn’t the means that he chooses to move to advance the objectives of his community. So I do not talk with Councilman Stokes. That is not based on an unwillingness to do so,” Lumumba said.

Stokes believes his efforts to pass legislation that have stalled — like money for extra Hinds County deputies and misdemeanor jail options in other counties — are because of the mayor.

“If any of these people that were dying was the mayor’s loved ones, he’d do something. He’d do something quick,” Stokes said. “It’s a shame we had to get statistics from Channel 3. Why, as a city councilman, I don’t know how many people died in my ward? You know, those are things that should be just elementary. You shouldn’t; you shouldn’t have to guess those things.”

Stokes blames JPD for not telling him that information.

In fairness, JPD has not provided comprehensive homicide information to the public in recent years.

That’s part of the reason WLBT began tracking homicides five years ago, using individual reports from the department each time.

This year, 3 On Your Side began tracking homicides by ward also, which anybody — including Stokes — could also do.

The longtime councilman also rebuffed criticism from those on social media, saying the violence in Ward 3 is a reflection of his leadership.

“I’m out in these neighborhoods. I know these dope boys. I see how they’re killing. Most council members don’t go out in these neighborhoods. I’m the one who said they need to do something about these tennis shoes where they have dope deals going on, tennis shoes where they’re talking about gangs,” Stokes said. “Nobody has introduced more legislation to stop violence in this city than Kenny Stokes.”

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