A city councilman fed up with police from other counties racing after small-time crooks in his Jackson, Mississippi, neighborhood has called for residents to throw things at officers in pursuit.
Now, the governor and a county sheriff are threatening to have prosecutors investigate him over the suggestion.
Councilman Kenneth Stokes has a reputation of saying what he thinks and stirring controversy.
“Let’s get rocks; let’s get bricks, and let’s get bottles,” Stokes told CNN affiliate WJTV. “And we’ll start throwing them, and then they won’t come in here anymore.”
It was no one-off quip. Stokes repeated the suggestion to other local news outlets.
“When you have these police officers coming from other jurisdictions and they will not respect human life, then I said we should use rocks, bricks or bottles to try to get the message over: stop endangering our children,” Stokes told Jackson’s The Clarion-Ledger newspaper.
Outrage poured out on social media culminating in vows by a sheriff and the governor to seek an investigation against Stokes.
“So why hasn’t he been arrested. I believe inciting a riot is against the law,” a user posted to Twitter.
“Sad that an elected official in the City of Jackson would try to incite violence against law enforcement. Resign now #kennethstokes,” another commented.
Sheriff Randy Tucker from neighboring Madison County threatened Stokes with legal consequences in a Facebook post.
“Law Enforcement will not be intimidated by you. Any Madison county law enforcement that is attacked because of your ignorant statements, I will hold you responsible. I fully intend to contact the (Mississippi) Attorney General and inquire if your statements constitute assaults on officers by threat,” the post read.
Gov. Phil Bryant joined him with a similar statement on Facebook.
“This is nothing short of an outright assault upon all who wear the badge. I will be asking Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate whether Mr. Stokes’ remarks represent criminal threats against law enforcement officers,” he said.
Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber commiserated over the police chases into his city but distanced himself from Stokes’ suggestion.
“While there is a need to demand respect of jurisdictional boundaries, I could never condone violence against officers,” he said.
Stokes told local media that his comments were not a call to riots.
He said that he supports police, and that police from surrounding jurisdictions pursuing dangerous criminals such as armed robbers through Jackson is justified. But risking lives to chase people suspected of misdemeanors is not.
A recent chase appears to have brought Stokes to a boiling point that led to the rocks, bottles and bricks comment.
Officers from three towns chased a man who had shoplifted at a Walmart and assaulted people in the parking lot. Multiple police cars raced after the suspect through Jackson.
“It was a misdemeanor. They could easily break off the chase, get the tag number,” Stokes said. “We’ll pay for whatever they stole to make sure that our babies are not harmed. We want the same respect that they give to their neighborhoods given to Jackson neighborhoods.”