Arkansas town to have martial law, armed police patrol streets

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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.
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 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.

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0 responses to “Arkansas town to have martial law, armed police patrol streets

  1. 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!!

  2. Crazy times we are living in….

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

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

  5. 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…

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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 of lawsuits arising from this, and since the civil rights of citizens are a factor, you can bet the FBI will be all over that town. I cannot understand for the life of me why they have not sought legal advice on this proposal. What is the city council’s role in the town’s decision making process? I predict Paragould Arkansas will soon be looking for a new mayor and police chief.

  9. “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!

  10. 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

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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 be an act in direct violation of the Constitution and constitutes at the least, “insurrection and/or rebellion” against it, (read the 14th Amendment), and at the worst “treason”.
    This complete, and literal ignorance of this simple, yet important document is one of the reasons we are in the trouble we are in in this nation.

    • I find it interesting, as well as appalling, how you, Rick, actually posted your comment here saying that the federal govt, i.e., the president canNOT impose Martial Law. You don’t even know U.S. history:
      Martial Law was imposed during the Southern Reconstruction following the U.S. Civil War: “The ten Southern state governments were re-constituted under the direct control of the United States Army. One major purpose was to recognize and protect the right of African Americans to vote.[87] There was little or no combat, but rather a state of martial law in which the military closely supervised local government, supervised elections, and tried to protect office holders and freedmen from violence.[88]”
      Throughout United States history are several examples of the imposition of martial law, aside from that during the Civil War. For examples, go here. The most recent instance was in Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina:
      “On August 26, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was placed under martial law after widespread flooding rendered civil authority ineffective. The state of Louisiana does not have an actual legal construct called “martial law,” but instead something quite like it: a state of public health emergency. The state of emergency allowed the governor to suspend laws, order evacuations, and limit the sales of items such as alcohol and firearms. The governor’s order limited the state of emergency, to end on September 25, 2005, “unless terminated sooner.”
      Contrary to many media reports at the time, martial law was not declared in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because no such term exists in Louisiana state law. However, a State of Emergency was declared, which does give unique powers to the state government similar to those of martial law. On the evening of August 31, 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin nominally declared “martial law” and said that officers didn’t have to observe civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters.[28] Federal troops were a common sight in New Orleans after Katrina. At one point, as many as 15,000 federal troops and National Guardsmen patrolled the city. Additionally it has been reported that armed contractors from Blackwater USA assisted in policing the city.[29]”

    • 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.)

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


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