It’s one thing for pranksters to lay down some “donuts” by skidding their tires on a street. It’s a whole other thing to do so on I-55, blocking traffic for an hour.
But that’s what happened last Friday night around 11 p.m. It was a huge mess. A woman got on the hood of her car and started twerking.
To make matters worse, the incident occurred near the I-55 Lakeland exit, near St. Dominic’s Hospital. Ambulances could have been prevented from getting emergency patients to the hospital.
The incident also occurred within eyesight of the Mississippi Highway Patrol building. Talk about gall!
Let’s hope this was a function of New Year’s celebration and not the start of a new ongoing trend.
Police Chief James Davis said traffic was so backed up that it prevented police from being able to respond in a timely manner.
“We had to work our way up to where they were. They got in their car and they drove off once they saw the blue lights, and we have been plagued with that throughout the year.”
This is not an isolated incident of hooligans using I-55 as their personal playground. For years, motorcycle gangs have raced around the metro I-55 - I-220 loop at high speeds. It’s routine, especially late Sunday nights. The screams of the engines can be heard for miles late into the night.
These motorcyclists are a danger to other traffic on the interstate. It is jarring to be driving along I-55 and have one of these motorcycles race by you at 100 miles per hour.
Jackson police have argued that there is little they can do. The cyclists can outrace police cars. So nothing has been done, which just encourages other lawbreaking like the donut makers.
It’s time for the Jackson Police Department to put a stop to this. If they won’t, then state officials should deploy the Highway Patrol to get the job done. If necessary, the U. S. Attorney’s Office should get involved. I-55 is a federal interstate highway.
Somebody must do something.
It is well known that the motorcycle gang members congregate at service stations at the intersection of I-55 and Northside Drive. It should be very easy to photograph the motorcyclists, their motorcycles and license plates.
The police could then take video of the motorcyclists as they race down I-55. You could identify the bikers based on clothing and type of motorcycle, even if they hid their license plates.
If the motorcyclists who were congregating had already hidden their license plates, they could be arrested on the spot, before the races began.
In other words, enforcement is achievable. It just takes some work. There is no more excuse for allowing such abuse of our interstate system.
The Jackson Police Department last month announced a new $447,000 surveillance system that would tie 1,500 cameras across the city via its Real Time Command Center.
Jackson City Council approved a four-year agreement with PILEUM Corporation to provide software and services needed to help the city access web-based public and private security cameras.
This is great progress, but if the will to arrest and prosecute is not there, then it will be money down the drain.
We have the technology right now to stop the high-speed Sunday night motorcycle races around the I-55 - I-220 loop. Why is nothing being done? How many more instances like this past weekend have to occur to get our law enforcement officials out from behind their desks?
This is where we need some leadership from Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who, by the way, is coming up for re-election this spring. His motto last election was “Free the Land,” but I doubt many people envisioned blocking traffic on I-55 as part of that concept. Mayor Lumumba needs to step up to the plate and make this happen.
It’s not just skid marks, donuts and traffic jams plaguing Jackson. It’s murder. This past year there were 128 murders in Jackson, breaking the all-time record by 46 percent.
The previous records were set in 1993 and 1994 during the crack epidemic when 91 and 92 murders were committed. This past year’s 128 murders breaks those records by a huge margin. Alarm bells should be clanging.
No doubt, disruption from Covid is a contributor to this horrific increase in murders. This year, 51 cities of various sizes across the U.S. saw an average 35% jump in murder from 2019 to 2020.
Kim Davies, a researcher at Augusta University, says murders usually involve people known to one another, often fighting over insults or resentments fueled by alcohol and other drugs, the use of which have risen during the pandemic.
We’ll see. If that’s the case, we should see a dramatic drop in the murder rate in 2021.
I believe the rise of gangs controlling our prison system is a contributing factor. Many of these murders are gang turf battles and initiation rituals.
For years, state officials have swept this under the rug as prison gangs, mainly the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples, have taken effective control of our prisons. Prison privatization accelerated this. The private companies could enlist the gangs to maintain order and cut staff, increasing profits. This pattern was painstakingly revealed in a recent federal lawsuit.
Our Republican state leaders have done a great job with fiscal restraint, but there are some basic functions of government that simply cannot be ignored. A functioning criminal justice system is one of them.
On a positive note, I received a letter this month from a state inmate serving a life sentence. This person has written me perhaps 100 letters complaining that the gangs were running the prison and drugs and contraband were rampant.
For the first time in 20 years, I actually got a positive letter from this inmate, praising the new head of MDOC, Burl Cain. Cain was appointed on a promise to rid our prison system of gangs and replace them with a vibrant prison ministry — a tall order for sure. Remarkably, Cain had succeeded in doing just that in Louisiana, particularly at the famed Angola maximum security prison.
“Burl Cain is our new MDOC Commissioner and he comes from Louisiana where he transformed their prison in Angola. He is a frequent guest on talk radio programs where I heard him for the first time last week. I had written so many Ephesians 5:11 letters about the way penitentiary gangs had taken over the MDOC that MDOC prison officials created a (mostly) gang-free housing unit just for me. Last week, Mr. Cain announced that he now has these gang-free zones all over MDOC. Even before I heard this news over the radio, I had already decided to quit writing so many letters. It is now apparent to me that government leaders and the public have finally gotten the message. For this reason, I finally have reached the place where I can be still and know that the Lord is God!”