Feds Need to Get 'Er Done

The U.S. Constitution probably breathed a sigh of relief last week when the U.S. Department of Justice announced indictments of Mayor Frank Melton and his two bodyguards for the alleged Aug. 26, 2006, attack on a Ridgeway Street duplex.

This is one of those thankfully rare, but urgent, situations where the federal government needs to step in and finish a job that state politics and harmful populist rhetoric truncated. Such an apparent blatant assault on the constitutional rights of a scrizophrenic man and a single-mother homeowner cannot go unanswered by a country that claims to protect the rights of individual citizens and that has a Fourth Amendment written to protect the rights of each and every one of us against a government run amok, regardless of the excuses given.

The U.S. Constitution cannot care whether the building that was destroyed was an alleged drughouse (where no drugs were found) or a big house in Eastover that might have a meth lab in the garage. It doesn't, and cannot, matter. America is in trouble if our society lets elected officials arm a children with sledgehammers and destroy a private home while a bunch of armed cops stand watch.

Our Constitution is never tested with easy cases; everyone can agree on those. It's when a difficult case like this one comes along—when one of the victims doesn't draw easy sympathy—that our devotion to living free is really tested. No one who believes in American-style freedoms could justify such an attack disguised as "crime-fighting." No one.

Some say that the feds should not step in and clean up what the state couldn't get done. We could not disagree more. This is exactly the kind of case the federal government should get involved with—an elected official acting under the "color of law" and using taxpayer-funded resources to violate constitutional rights. We welcome a trial in which a member of the state's good-ole-judge system does not allow the law to be manipulated to imply that a public official must have "evil" intent to be convicted of such crimes against Americans.

The message must be sent, one way or the other, that nobody—regardless of their rhetorical skills and Daddy complexes—is above the law. More importantly, it must be proclaimed that no American is beneath the law.

Duplex resident Evans Welch has rights. Duplex owner Jennifer Sutton has rights. Every Jacksonian has rights. And, yes, that includes poor people who live in the Virden Addition. It is high time to stop insulting certain people of Jackson by believing Mr. Melton's hype that they have fewer rights because he says they do, and that his "mistakes" are acceptable as long his intent isn't "evil."

Wrong is wrong, and it's high time that somebody be held responsible for the travesty that night on Ridgeway Street.


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