Arkansas town to have martial law, armed police patrol streets

Paragould_AR
A city cannot declare or impose martial law.
But the mayor and police chief of Paragould — a town of 26,000 in northeast Arkansas, approximately 88 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee — are doing it anyway. All in the name of fighting crime.
If their plan is actualized, Paragould residents could soon be asked to show their identification by police armed with AR-15 assault rifles, and answer questions as to why they’re out and about in their own town.
Paragould
Liz Klimas reports for The Blaze, Dec. 18, 2012, that “The martial law [was] recommended by the mayor and police chief of Paragould, in response to recent property-related and violent crimes.”
The account in The Blaze’s source, the Paragould Daily Press, however, makes no mention of martial law. However, having police patrol streets stopping citizens to ask for their ID and why they’re out is to suspend their right of habeus corpus, which effectively means the imposition of martial law.
Ryan Salor reports for the Paragould Daily Press that Paragould mayor Mike Gaskill and police chief Todd Stovall said in a town hall meeting last week that the initiative to battle street crime would begin in 2013:

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.”

Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.

“We’re going to do it to everybody,” he said. “Criminals don’t like being talked to.” […]

“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” he said. “But they’re going to have to prove it.”

The Daily Press reported Stovall saying that the crime statistics in the city were high enough to justify such action by law enforcement. It noted that an attorney was not consulted by the mayor or police chief before the street crimes unit plan was proposed.
After the martial law recommendation was met with backlash from citizens believing it infringes upon their civil rights, the mayor is backing off a little, saying that the city just wanted to make sure a law enforcement presence was felt in some areas. The police department issued a statement clarifying the proposed actions of the street crimes unit. Here’s how they explain the unit working:

Once an area has been identified as a high crime neighborhood, the select group of officers will saturate the area in an attempt to curb the criminal behavior that is plaguing that particular neighborhood.  Officers will accomplish this in a variety of different methods.  Officers will be working to identify residents in the affected area so that we can better serve our affected neighborhoods.  Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there’s anything we can do for them.  During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent (i.e. between the hours of 11pm and 5 am), our process will become more stringent.  We will be asking for picture identification.  We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area.  We will be keeping a record of those we contact.

Many citizens, through various media outlets, have expressed a concern about the police “violating rights” or “violating the Constitution”.  We have to abide by the same rules, regulations, and laws that our citizens do.  We are not out to violate anyone’s rights.  Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing.  Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.

More town hall meetings are being held in Paragould Tuesday and Thursday where residents can join in the discussion.

Paragould officials

l to r: Mayor Mike Gaskill, Police Chief Todd Stovall, and Cpl. Brad Snyder

Wikipedia says Paragould’s racial makeup is 97.87% White, 1.33% Hispanic/Latino, 0.04% Black,  0.42% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.56% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races.
I looked up Paragould’s crime statistics on CityData.com. The city’s crime rates do not look to have drastically increased. In fact, compared to many U.S. cities, Paragould is downright pacific, with 0 murder for every year from 1999 to 2010.
crime in Paragould
Note also that a city government cannot declare martial law. Only an authority controlling military forces can do that, which means a state governor or the federal government. In other words, what Paragould’s mayor and police chief propose to do is against the Constitution and violates the constitutional rights of Paragould’s citizenry.
~Eowyn

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Doug
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Doug

Looks like the police chief and his cohort haven’t missed any doughnuts recently!!!
People are now begging to have their rights taken away in the name of security!!

DCG
Guest

Crazy times we are living in….

TrailDust
Admin

Sounds like Barney Fife has taken over the local police force.
~ TD

lindarm
Guest

They can’t just do that because they feel like it. This is really really bad.The good old boys are insane

Michael Inman (@n0klu)
Guest

In the name of freedom and the US constitution, how about we shoot the Gestapo that stop us and demand papers! This could set off a civil war. Better think it over a little more…

Sally Walker
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Sally Walker

I think it is also pre-planned among other things of late.

lindarm
Guest

Sally bingo! you nailed it.

rightful revolt
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rightful revolt

alright my fellow arkansans pick up get loved ones safe sercure and ready there starting to bring it to us when it really gets kicked off hold god and a gun with persision stay strong and steid fast promise there are more out there like me were posed and ready lets rise our republic back up from the dead .. Gods Speed my freinds.

screenshot
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randy63ism
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randy63ism

These people are total morons! They’re fixing to get themselves into a lot of trouble here, both civil and perhaps even criminal. A municipality is not vested with the authority to declare martial law. It is as the name implies, martial = military, as pertaining to military, military forces, and military resources. In other words, martial law can only be declared by a Commander-in-Chief, and there are only two offices that meet the criterea of Commander-in-Chief, that of president, and that of state governor. They alone are the only people constitutionally empowered to declare martial law. I see all manner… Read more »

bobby90247
Guest

“Martial Law???”
OBVIOUSLY…Arkansas doesn’t understand that “Martial Law” is “UNLAWFUL” IN THE UNITED STATES!
Martial Law was deemed “illegal” in the U.S. many many years ago!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Only by the federal gov’t (i.e., military proper) but these are the local mayor and police doing it.

bobby90247
Guest

Hi, Anonymous!
Yes, I understand that. However, “Federal Law” takes precedence over “State Law”…OR…at least it did in the past!

gysgt1
Guest

Chief Stovall “We have a zero-tolerance. We are prepared to throw your hind-end in jail, OK? We are not going to take a lot of flack”
Humm..really Chief? I would submit that EVERYONE in the town go out and walk around and when stopped take the Fifth. Let them arrest, detain, you and over-flow his tiny ass jail and then bring changes against this idiot and the Mayor! I understand that they are just trying to make the area safer, but braking the LAW to do so?
Semper Fi
Gunny

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Big gov’t efficiency– ’cause freedom and civil rights are just a hassle.

joandarc
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joandarc

Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this amazing post! What can I say but how ludicrous it is, especially since martial law can only be declared by federal authorities. I wonder if this is a town where the Obama regime is practicing martial law as an experiment to see what happens. This is entirely possible given the regime’s track record.

PapersPlease
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PapersPlease

This Arkansas cadre is doing a beta-test for the regime.
Notice how many of the “disasters” lately, as well as outlandish “police-state” actions have been in, heretofore unknown small towns? They are Much easier to control, having fewer loose cannons to expose truths that might negate the “messaging”.
gysgt1 had it right, ALL the townsfolk SHOULD do a “walk-in” and the only thing they should produce as I.D. is a pocket constitution!

Rick
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Rick

I find it interesting, as well as appalling how many people who have posted comments here actually beleive even the federal govt., IE: president can impose “Martial Law”. NO WAY, NO HOW, and so says the S. Crt. of the US. In fact and effect, the type of martial law most people beleive exists would allegedly “suspend” the Constitution. It IS that very Constitution from, and UNDER which the president derives his “just powers(read authority). To literally suspend the Constitution would supend/set-aside the VERY document under which the president operates. Furthermore; to suspend that document would in effect AND fact… Read more »

randy63ism
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randy63ism

What I find appalling is that some people would actually believe the Obama Regime would let such a minor inconvenience as the US Constitution stop them from imposing their agenda or that Congress would actually have the balls to stop them from doing so.
I understand what you are saying Rick, but please don’t be naive. This government under Obama has already shown it’s contempt for rule of law, Congress’ perogatives, and the Constitution. Personally, I think Obama’s executive branch has become quite Putinesque (though far less capable and competent than Putin.)

TrailDust
Admin

Rick, the point is exactly the fact that the president is throwing the Constitution under the bus.