Calling Out the Guard | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Calling Out the Guard

photo

Note: The print edition erroneously lists Donna Ladd as the author of this piece.

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton overstepped his bounds last week when he told reporters that he wanted to bring in the Mississippi National Guard to help fight crime, which has increased by 16 percent on his watch so far this year.

Council President Marshand Crisler bemoaned the image that Melton's announcement sent to the outside world—images of a city under siege by crime that might discourage investment.

"I just don't think this statement was good for business in the city," Crisler said. "It reflects badly on the citizens and pushes a stereotype."

Members of state and county government quickly questioned Melton's authority, pointing out that, as mayor, Melton has no control over the National Guard.

"Maybe we aren't sure what exactly he was asking for, but no mayor has any authority over the National Guard," said Pete Smith, a spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour was out of town cajoling entrepreneurs to invest in the state and could not comment directly, but Smith said Melton had not even talked with the governor about his decision to use the state's soldiers.

"The mayor had not spoken to Barbour as of Friday, and I know he hasn't spoken to him today," Smith said Monday.

Attorney General Jim Hood released a statement saying, "(Melton) can make the request of the National Guard, but it is up to the Guard as to whether it will respond."

Mississippi National Guard head Adjutant Gen. Harold Cross told The Clarion-Ledger that he thought the mayor's proposal to use the Guard was "silly."

Melton first asserted that he did not require the governor's approval to make use of equipment and personnel at the National Guard Armory at Hawkins Field.

"Retrospectively, I kind of did things a little backwards. I haven't spoken with the governor, yet. I'm waiting on him to get back into town, and I'll just go sit down with him. I … didn't give it a second thought because we've used these services all along. MBN uses them all the time," Melton told the JFP.

Melton was the director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics for 14 months until Barbour replaced him.

Melton says he's not interested in any ground troops.

"I'm asking for the drug interdiction helicopters. I worked with them extensively while I was at MBN, and I've used them since I've become mayor. My strategy is they can see things from the air that we can't see from the ground," Melton said.

"The other part was for some intelligence help. These are people who work with data bases and can pull up-to-date information on gangs and individuals. Those are the only two areas I'm interested in at this point. I'm not interested in putting them under my control. They can't work under my control."

Melton said his announcement brought an immediate benefit. "The message has had a tremendous amount of value for us so far, with the right people: the bad guys. I think they're afraid of what's going to happen next because of all this activity," Melton said.

The National Guard was called out in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to save Oxford from its own citizens when black student James Meredith entered Ole Miss. It was called out again to help Jackson police and state troopers quell rioting in May, 1970. Police and troopers killed two young people at that riot, though the city long denied that JPD had a hand in the shootings.

Lt. Col. Tim Powell, director of public affairs with the Mississippi National Guard, said even if all Melton wanted was to use some of the National Guard equipment and services, he would have to go through the proper channels.

"There are a lot of questions that have to be answered, and those questions have not been answered," Powell said. "Things need to be done the right way and he has no authority to call out the guard for anything."

Hood's office submitted—along with the statement on Melton's lack of authority over the National Guard—a statement regarding Melton's insistence on carrying guns onto property with strong firearm restrictions.

Hood informed Melton in a recent letter that Melton's weapon certification did not allow him to carry his guns into certain buildings, such as City Hall and churches. He also pointed out to the mayor that Melton would no longer be able to hide behind ignorance of the law now that Hood had made it clear to him, saying any further violations would be prosecuted.

Last week, a JFP intern photographed Melton in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church with his weapon attached to his belt.

Hood said his office was considering another investigation.

"It was alleged by the press that he was seen in a place from which he was prohibited to carry a firearm. We are going to see what the facts are and then make a decision on how to proceed," Hood said in a statement.

Melton refused to comment on the possibility of another investigation by Hood.

Anybody spotting the mayor armed in a courthouse or courtroom, City Hall, a college or university, a bar, a church or place of worship, a public park, a detention facility or jail, a police or sheriff or highway patrol station, a polling station, anywhere illegal drugs are used or distributed, or any other place where carrying a firearm is forbidden by law can call the Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General's Office.

State law does give mayors authority to proclaim states of emergency, which Melton vowed to do last week, also to address crime. On Tuesday, Melton unveiled a draft declaration of emergency that would expand the youth curfew to begin at 8 p.m. on weeknights.

Hinds County Emergency Management Director Larry Fisher said mayors and county supervisors declare states of emergency all the time. "During Katrina we were classified as a state of emergency. ... In 2003, we had the flash flooding here in Jackson. We've had many declarations, but nothing relative to the crime issue," Fisher said. "(Melton) can declare it, but his declaration, in order for it to gain any funding or help from the state, or the National Guard, it would require the governor concurring that the state of emergency exists."

Previous Comments

ID
66522
Comment

“I’m asking for the drug interdiction helicopters. I worked with them extensively while I was at MBN, and I’ve used them since I’ve become mayor. Oh really? You've used these helicopters since taking office? Really? When? Were they under the command of JPD or was it a joint effort with the MBN? If it was with the MBN, you Sir have not used them per say. Come on elected leaders, you believe this crap!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-06-21T13:35:38-06:00
ID
66523
Comment

As it relates to any future *pronouncement* coming from Frank Melton, I think we'd all be wise to remember this saying (which I first saw years ago on a poster somewhere): *What You Are Speaks So Loudly That I Can't Hear What It Is You're Saying!* The man never quits! It's indeed a sad, sorry situation in which the City of Jackson now finds itself, thanks to none other than Emperor Frank.

Author
Kacy
Date
2006-06-21T14:17:50-06:00
ID
66524
Comment

I wonder if all this is costing the city money what with the IBC going on. If I were planning to come to the city I would be afraid and not come. How many visitors is this stunt costing us?? Does anyone know if this is causing any effect on the visitors to the IBC? (in terms of attendance) Are the participants being effected with all this bad publicity? What must they think about the "Best of the new south"?

Author
jada
Date
2006-06-21T15:11:47-06:00
ID
66525
Comment

We got a call a couple hours ago that he is planning to declare the state of emergency tomorrow morning because of the shooting today. Whatever that means. He may well do it in name only like he did the curfews and such during the Katrina aftermatch. That just created mass confusion. Anyone want to guess about this? And, yes, it's terrible for the city's economic state that he's doing this crap.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-21T21:11:25-06:00
ID
66526
Comment

Interesting development. The Clarion-Ledger is reporting that Hood subpoenaed videotapes of Melton carrying guns The subpoenas say the videotapes are to be used in an "ongoing criminal investigation" and that the material can be presented now or before a Hinds County grand jury on Aug. 7. Last week Hood spokeswoman Jan Schaefer said the attorney general had opened a new investigation into Melton after receiving a complaint from someone in the news media. Melton said he was unaware the subpoenas were going to be served, but said he was not concerned about appearing before a grand jury as long as he is allowed to plead his case. "If they want to indict me, that's fine," he said. "We'll take it before a jury." ... Melton, who has two full-time Jackson Police Department detectives assigned to his personal security, said he is not considering leaving his guns at home. If a gun battle broke out, Melton said, he would want to return fire and protect his entourage. "If they are willing to die for me, I've got to be willing to die for them," he said. Melton has said his life is in danger and said he receives regular threats from criminals such as drug dealers and street gang leaders. However, no one ever has been charged with threatening the mayor, with the exception of a woman Melton said had a romantic obsession with him. "I'm not another citizen. I am the mayor of Jackson," he said. "It's appropriate that I have a chance to protect myself."

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-21T21:31:17-06:00
ID
66527
Comment

"I'm not another citizen. I am the mayor of Jackson," he said. "It's appropriate that I have a chance to protect myself." No sir, you ARE just another citizen. This city would be fine if something happened that kept you from finishing your term. Governments in the USA are structured just for that reason. Your pants go on one leg at a time, I think it is time one of your advisors told you that seeing as how you don't want to hear from the people! "If they are willing to die for me, I've got to be willing to die for them," he said. Excuse me but I think I am going to be sick! Dude put away the New Jack City video and come back to planet earth!

Author
pikersam
Date
2006-06-21T21:48:41-06:00
ID
66528
Comment

well who is this woman with the love jones for the mayor?and what did she threaten to do to to get charged with a crime?

Author
chimneyville
Date
2006-06-21T22:55:19-06:00
ID
66529
Comment

His boys told me about her. She scared them because she would hang out outside the gate. A professor, I think, believe it or not. But let's not anyone go further down that road with speculations about identity and so on. I don't have evidence other than the stories the kids told. So let's keep that door closed. And, yes, Mr. Melton's need to die for his bodyguards is remarkable, to say the least. When I was out with them, I was more concerned about him getting them killed. They are nice guys, one on one.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-21T23:01:17-06:00
ID
66530
Comment

Who ever heard of a person protecting their bodyguards? i thought the purpose of the bg's was to protect the person not the other way around. Someone correct me if I have a wrong understanding. That is the craziest thing I have ever heard, if they are willing to die for me then i must be ready to do the same, this is insane. Adam u did an excellent job. Cong. on your award it is articials like this that makes you a winner. keep up the good work.l

Author
jada
Date
2006-06-21T23:17:48-06:00
ID
66531
Comment

Well, he seems to be arguing that he needs to take guns to places where he is prohibited to do so by state law so that he can protect his bodyguards. Yowza.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-21T23:20:34-06:00
ID
66532
Comment

I just hope Hood has the [email protected] to do the right thing...before someone gets hurt or killed, particularly in light of the Mayor's reported affinity for libations (anybody remember his badly slurred ranting on the Charles Evers radio program in May?)

Author
Kacy
Date
2006-06-21T23:33:41-06:00
ID
66533
Comment

Why aren't they identifying the victim here? That might figure out who shot him. And did you see the cars involved? There's much going on here than meets the eye. I think the *very last* thing we need is an official war zone with Melton in charge: A man was shot in the back of the head and the back after his vehicle was fired upon while driving in central Jackson on Wednesday. Police are looking for the driver of a black Dodge Magnum, Precinct 2 Cmdr. Lee Vance said. The victim, who was not identified, was driving a silver Chrysler 300. He was transported to a local hospital by ambulance. Police received a report about 12:50 p.m. that shots were being fired from the Dodge into the silver car in the area of Boling and Bullard streets, Vance said.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-22T08:29:49-06:00
ID
66534
Comment

Get this. Melton says that Hood's subpoenas are "retribution" by the D.A.: Melton said it is "unfair" for the media to register such a complaint and that it holds him to a different standard than other public officials. He also said he believed the investigationis retribution from Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson, with whom the mayor publicly has feuded with over the failed prosecutions of reputed gang leader Albert "Batman" Donelson and other alleged gang members. Peterson said she was unaware of the subpoena, although she did provide video footage from a news channel showing the mayor in public with several weapons during Hood's first investigation of Melton. Peterson said it sounds as if the new subpoena covers more territory than what she provided. "He (Hood) may know exactly what he is looking for," she said. It's *always* someone else's fault, eh, no matter what he does, or does not do. That's a great example for kids. And the part about him being held to a higher standard is laugh-out-loud hysterical. He's the one demanding to be held to a different standard by ignoring the law and daring officials to take him to court. Meantime, he's playing with guns in a church-full of people or a park-full of kids. Maybe the smarter rule ought to be that a man who is a walking threat target as he presents himself cannot have ANY access to young people because his presence might get them hurt, eh? I really, really, really don't understand how authorities allow all those young people to live in his home, considering how many threats he says he gets every day. Ali, can you help us out here?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-22T08:40:35-06:00
ID
66535
Comment

Also, y'all don't miss what The Clarion-Ledger is sneakily doing here—they are correcting their own earlier errors about Hood's findings in their text, rather than running a correction and apologizing to readers. On June 1, they reported, with no mention of Hood's letter to Melton: Hinds County's district attorney said Wednesday she disagrees with findings from a state Attorney General's investigation that Jackson Mayor Frank Melton had not broken state or local laws during his highly publicized crime sweeps. "I didn't agree for him (Attorney General Jim Hood) to soft pedal this thing," DA Faye Peterson said. Hood announced in an afternoon news conference that Melton didn't commit any felony or misdemeanor violations while on the sweeps with police. "I had a meeting with him and advised him that in the future if he violates any of these statutes, we intend to prosecute him if we have to," Hood said. Hood's office investigated allegations that during the sweeps, the mayor carried a concealed weapon without a permit and impersonated an officer while dressed in police garb. He also allegedly had police hold a person in custody without a valid warrant. OK, then we cleared up this misunderstanding, with our Hood interview and detailed report about the threatening letter Hood wrote to Melton, telling him where he could no longer carry guns. Now, the Ledge is incorporating the real facts into their reporting, like today: Last month, Hood concluded an investigation into Melton's crime-fighting tactics by sending the mayor a letter outlining 19 places where state law says citizens cannot carry firearms. Those places include public parks, courthouses, police stations, schools, bars, passenger terminals of airports and churches. Now, if the Ledge would get that ombudsmen, he/she would tell them that this practice -- and I can't remember what it's called; journo heads? -- is a bad practice and does not build trust with readers. Also, note that the part I just quoted isn't complete even though it makes it sound like that's all the letter did. Allow me to reiterate for the record: Hood did NOT find that Melton had not broken the law; he believed that the evidence was too flimsy at that point to get solid convictions, issued the letter of what Melton cannot do in the future, and vowed to prosecute him if he crossed the line. He sounds now like he is planning to do just that. This is vastly different than what The Clarion-Ledger reported on June 1. No surprise, I know, but readers deserve understand the source of the recent confusion over Hood's action. The. Media. Got. It. Wrong.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-22T08:53:32-06:00
ID
66536
Comment

"Anybody spotting the mayor armed in a courthouse or courtroom, City Hall, a college or university, a bar, a church or place of worship, a public park, a detention facility or jail, a police or sheriff or highway patrol station, a polling station, anywhere illegal drugs are used or distributed, or any other place where carrying a firearm is forbidden by law can call the Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General’s Office." Does this include the several bars (including the strip clubs) he's raided and wandered around before Hood's warnings?

Author
kaust
Date
2006-06-22T10:38:19-06:00
ID
66537
Comment

Also, the picture above frightens me more than any written antic about Melton... Anyone notice how close that cute, little, wagging foot is to Melton's holstered gun? This is exactly why that fool doesn't need a weapon in public. Don't be kissin' and cuddlin' babies or attending public forums while you're packing, fool! You're likely to kill an innocent if you keep it up!

Author
kaust
Date
2006-06-22T10:47:31-06:00
ID
66538
Comment

I was of the impression that carrying withiut a lisence was a misdemeanor. If the AG is going in front of a grand jury with this I'd say he's serious about Frank.

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-06-22T11:47:54-06:00
ID
66539
Comment

I wonder if there's something we don't know about here. Is "massive public endangerment" a felony!?!

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-22T11:50:10-06:00
ID
66540
Comment

MELTON IS A MAGNET FOR CRIME. He is a poor example for our young. He breaks the law in front of them and then imposes punishment for things that are being done by adults. Where is the logic in all of this? We are having a few too any "strange crimes" that seem to be politically motivated. Also, aren't there just a few too many fires, almost daily, in these boarded up homes? These are things that make you go, uuuummmmmm!

Author
justjess
Date
2006-06-22T12:13:13-06:00
ID
66541
Comment

I agree, justjess, that the spate of crimes of late are curious at best. It feels like the gang wars of old. Something seems to have shaken them up again.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-22T12:14:50-06:00
ID
66542
Comment

Good post justjess. You should have put this under whether melton is a danger to young folks.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-06-22T12:16:17-06:00
ID
66543
Comment

"I want to follow the law. What I'm telling you is that I can't live like that." - Mayor Frank Melton on how he cannot abide by the law if it restricts where he can carry his guns Ledge editorial Remind me how this is different from a criminal mindset?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-06-23T11:14:50-06:00
ID
66544
Comment

Hmph. I just read that and was going to link to it when I saw you beat me to it, DL. Again, apparently it takes a thug to stop the thugs. I really hate that my tax dollars are paying this man's salary, when I DIDN'T EVEN VOTE FOR HIM!

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-06-23T11:48:51-06:00
ID
66545
Comment

Gee, if Frank was talking about booze that statement would sound just like an AA confession.

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-06-23T11:54:35-06:00
ID
66546
Comment

**Gee, if Frank was talking about booze that statement would sound just like an AA confession.** <--JLYerg Good one, JLYerg. It made me go, "hmmmmmmmmmm; only 11 steps to go!" ;-)

Author
Kacy
Date
2006-06-23T12:41:29-06:00
ID
66547
Comment

Melton says that he is willing to die for his bodyguards...........then why does he even need them? It seems that he is looking for a shootout. Every since he was elected he has been on the streets like he is a beatcop, but crime has steadily gone up. He appears to be slowly but surely turning against the AG. This is common with the mayor. He will love (hug) you one minute, and stab you in the back the next minute. It really scares me when I see him mingle with the same kids that he has now banned from the streets at night walking among them while embracing some of them. What if his firearm accidently discharged? Would he mistake this for someone trying to shoot at him and then he began to return fire? One thing about Melton, you never run out of things to talk about while he's in office.

Author
lance
Date
2006-06-23T17:23:08-06:00
ID
66548
Comment

**Gee, if Frank was talking about booze that statement would sound just like an AA confession.** <--JLYerg You know, when you look back Melton has NEVER said anything about liquor stores. This is also a problem that needs to be considered for crime reduction. Its a fact that kids have too much access to these establishments. I wonder why he has overlooked this?

Author
lance
Date
2006-06-23T17:27:16-06:00
ID
66549
Comment

"It seems that he is looking for a shootout." - lance I sense this too, and I'll tell you that in the course of 21 years in the Army I was in a few fire fights and I sure as hell didn't look forward to them!

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-06-24T01:53:25-06:00
ID
66550
Comment

good poing yerg. When has Melton EVER been shot at? when I was in army some new punk from Bama fresh out of basic said he wanted a war so he could get medals and stuff. We pretty much ostracized him after we told him how stupid he was. and Kacy, about those 12 steps, the first step though is to ADMIT you have a problem. So instead of 11 he has 12 steps to go. I bet he don't even have a chip. ;-)

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-06-24T10:28:04-06:00
ID
66551
Comment

i mean if the guard its doing anything right now, we sure could use a hand

Author
ANY-MEANS-NEC
Date
2006-06-24T13:43:32-06:00
ID
66552
Comment

My question those that want The National Guard called out is this: What do you want the military to do? Gov. Barbour was correct when he said they're warriors with no training to deal with a civilian population. They are trained for war, and war is comprised of two elements: breaking things and killing people. Which do you folks want? One or both?

Author
Cliff Cargill
Date
2006-06-24T20:53:22-06:00
ID
66553
Comment

Cliff, it would depend on who the Guard shot. Remember the young man that was beaten by the cops? Well that is where I am coming from. Most peoplr don't care what happens to the poor or blacks so as long as they stay within that realm most want give a flip.

Author
jada
Date
2006-06-24T21:08:55-06:00
ID
66554
Comment

Cliff- you forgot making noise. The Army makes noise, breaks things and hurts people. Toujours pret !

Author
JLYerg
Date
2006-06-24T23:20:24-06:00
ID
66555
Comment

Cliff writes: What do you want the military to do? Gov. Barbour was correct when he said they're warriors with no training to deal with a civilian population. ...which is appropriate, since Melton appears to be treating the youth of west Jackson like enemy combatants. I am extremely depressed that the Jackson Advocate is actually defending a policy that so perfectly fulfills white separatist race-war fantasies. I mean, seriously, anyone can ask Richard Barrett if he would like to see the National Guard called out in force to implement a sundown curfew on a 73% African-American city. I'm sure he would LOVE that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-06-25T09:50:45-06:00
ID
66556
Comment

The Jackson Advocate, especially Charles Tisdale, has been so anti-Harvey Johnson, they got behind anybody who was running against him.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-06-25T15:23:25-06:00
ID
66557
Comment

Golden Eagle Boy: "The Jackson Advocate, especially Charles Tisdale, has been so anti-Harvey Johnson, they got behind anybody who was running against him." With the Jackson Advocate there's a little more to it than that I think. Certainly Tisdale has never forgiven Ol' Harv for rejecting his paper to run the city's legal notices (a fact he repeated every week on his radio show). They now have access to City Hall in a way that they didn't have during previous administrations, at least to a point. But this mayor isn't afraid to burn bridges even with his supporters, and I think Tisdale will come over to our side of the Melton fence eventually, especially if former Chief Black is going to be on the City payroll.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2006-06-27T15:32:52-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus