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18 September 2006

"BAD TOUCH!" screamed the trapped kids on the 4 schoolbuses / the True Adventures of South Park

Frank Melton, witnesses say, ordered young followers
to demolish a house he tied to drug sales.

Faye Peterson, the Hinds County district attorney,
whose grand jury indicted Mayor Melton.
(Photos: Rogelio Solis/Associated Press)

The New York Times did its own story on the Melton Mess in Jackson, Mississippi. Got some cool details the earlier stories missed.

Mayor Frank Melton is straight out of South Park.

* Guy ordered a flashing cop car to pull over four schoolbuses so he could hug the kids.

* Guy used to carry his gun on airplanes.

* Guy used to run around town at night wearing a police badge. (Or, as they'd say in 1930s/1940s Noir: flashing a buzzer.)

He's an elected mayor and used to be a governor-appointed head of the state narcotics bureau, but he was never a sworn law enforcement officer. He was a TV station owner and news personality who was ... uhhhh ... just like pretending he was a police officer.

I'm not a real police officer,
but I play one on TV ...


The New York Times
Saturday 16 September 2006

Jackson Mayor Is Indicted
Over Crime-Fighting Tactics


ATLANTA, Sept. 15 -- The mayor of Jackson, Miss., was indicted on six felony charges Friday after months of criticism and warnings that his unorthodox crime-fighting tactics might put him on the wrong side of the law.

Among the counts now faced by the mayor, Frank Melton, are burglary, malicious mischief, illegally carrying a gun and causing a minor to commit a felony. The most serious of the charges against him carry sentences of up to 25 years, said the local district attorney, Faye Peterson.

The mayor’s supporters called the charges politically motivated and said he would not resign.

Some of the charges stem from a sheriff’s investigation of the night of Aug. 26, when the home of Evans Welch, a man with a history of mental illness and petty crimes, was attacked by a sledgehammer-wielding group of young men without warning or permit.

Witnesses said Mr. Melton, who often patrols the city at night with the police and a group of teenage followers, had directed the demolition of the house, which he said was known as a place to buy illegal drugs. His two police bodyguards are also charged in connection with that event.

Dale Danks, Mr. Melton’s lawyer, issued a statement acknowledging that damage had been done to "the drug house" and that "maybe better judgment could have been used."

"But," the statement said, "the charges that have been made against Mayor Melton are an extreme and excessive reaction."

Mr. Melton was also charged with carrying a gun on the campus of the Mississippi College School of Law, in a public park and in a church. The first is a felony; the two others are misdemeanors. All three of these cases had been referred to the local authorities by the state attorney general, Jim Hood, who had earlier written Mr. Melton a letter warning that he could not legally carry a gun in such places.

Mr. Melton, a former television executive, took office in July 2005, promising to lower the crime rate in Jackson, the state capital. He personally oversaw those efforts, drawing attention for going on nighttime raids, using the Police Department’s only mobile command unit and wearing a police jacket and badge.

After The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson’s daily newspaper, reported that he made a habit of traveling with guns, the federal Transportation Security Administration, the paper said, requested that he no longer carry guns aboard commercial airplanes, as he had under a waiver granted to law enforcement personnel.

In April, Mr. Melton used a police car to pull over four school buses on a highway so that, he said, he could talk to the children and hug them.

After a grand jury returned the indictments Friday, the mayor surrendered, posted a $50,000 bond and was released on condition that he refrain from using law enforcement vehicles, carrying firearms or supervising minors.

- 30 -


Hope they run this. Well, what the hell -- Agence-Vleeptron Presse is running it here. A-VP loves Bob's LTEs.

But send one of your own.

submitted via webform:


Letters to the Editor
The Clarion-Ledger

To the Editor:

Clarion-Ledger Executive Editor Ronnie Agnew is wrong. Mayor Frank Melton may be defiant, but he hasn't a clue that the end of his mayoralty is near. ("A defiant Melton must know the end is near," 17 September.)

Melton rose in state and city government on the shoulders of three generations of the populist politics of the War On Drugs. All he knows about getting appointed and elected is the bumper sticker "I'm tough on drugs!" and the sound bite "I'm tough on crime!"

All he knows is Buford Pusser cleaning up vice, sin and crime by busting heads and smashing furniture with a two-by-four -- with TV crews invited so his stunts will make the eleven o'clock news.

All he knows is that the same "Dirty Harry" myths and "Walking Tall" images have elected a quarter century of state reps and state senators, members of Congress and US senators, DAs, mayors and governors.

All he knows is that voters rejected candidates who went beyond action hero bumper stickers and spoke about real issues: poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, public health and addiction.

Asking Melton to believe there are laws against the mayor packing a pistol and smashing doors in poor neighborhoods while he sanctified his antics with the abracadabra word "drugs" is like asking him to believe there are laws against Apple Pie and Mom.

Explaining to Melton that his film-at-eleven antics may now land HIM (not The Bad Guys) in prison is like telling a five-year-old there's no Santa Claus.

It was never about drugs or crime. In Melton's Jackson and Melton's state narcotics fiefdom, those have been going up, not going down.

It was always about thrilling "Cops" raid film at eleven and more prisoners -- and neighborhoods that just had to take it because they were poor and politically powerless.

In everything I've read in the Mississippi press about Melton's career and recent troubles, I've never read a single paragraph about the public health dimension of "drugs!" and "drug crime!"

Clearly you have mayors, you have police chiefs, you have DA's and an AG, you have jails and prisons, you have television and newspapers.

But do you have doctors? Do you have rehab? Do you have a public health commissioner? Do you have doctor-supervised methadone clinics or clean needle exchanges?

While Melton was advancing his Hollywood drug-busting career, and his media buddies were providing the front-page photo ops, who was looking after the AIDS, the addiction, the jobs, the schools, and the hepatitis?

This is America's 30th year of the War On Drugs. Melton has no reason whatever to think the end is near.

Robert Merkin

Northampton Massachusetts


U.B. said...

Dear Friend,
reading all that lovley stuff about law and order and police....may I put an article from you on exhibt, completing this year´s mailart show in Wedding.It´s all about police....and sometimes about crime. Btw thanks for Faulkner´s text.Did you know Faulkner admired T.Mann but did not take the chance to meet him when he had the possibilty. Best Uwe

U.B. said...

The story about the mayot is hilarious.U.