Rupert Howell column

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2012

Time is now to take stand against those who violate the peace

Our county is being terrorized.

There’s no doubt about it—a few thugs and punks are making the lives of some of our citizens miserable. It’s hard for me to believe that in the year 2012, there are Panola County citizens who go to bed at night afraid of what is on the other side of their locked door or that some punk with a gun is going to shoot up their house or neighborhood.

If we were in the 1960s or ‘70s, and the crime was white on black, FBI agents would be behind every tree and shrub by now.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But it’s 2012 and recent shooting incidents appear to be black on black. We are left to deal with the problem with local law enforcement officers who are stretched thin either due to manpower, budget woes or job fatigue.

An earlier edition of this week’s newspaper headlined gang bangers and predictably sold a lot of newspapers.

The truth is, last weekend there were a lot of good citizens, young and old, black and white, rich and poor, involved in a lot more than gang banging.

There were hundreds if not a thousand at the Christian oriented outdoors extravaganza. STOP organization’s Saturday parade and rally involved several hundred during the day in Sardis and a benefit to memorialize Annie Swindle for the local Cancer Relief fund had standing room only at Batesville’s Lion Club Building.

But it was overshadowed by a few punks and thugs who want to make a name for themselves by cowardly acts of shooting through a house or automobile.

If these cowardly acts of violence continue, Panola County is going, if we haven’t already, to get a reputation as a violent community.

When that occurs, everyone becomes involved. Your real estate’s value drops, new residents find elsewhere to live, shoppers find safer places to shop, schools spend more money on security and so on . . .

It’s time for the good people to take a stand and say “enough is enough.” It’s time for you and your neighbor to pick up the phone and call law enforcement and tell them what you saw or what was said.

It’s time to call Crimestoppers (1-800-729-2169)and report the crime and it’s time to tell your neighbor, friends, family and church members to do the same.

If the brave citizens of the past had not stepped forward and said enough is enough, we might still be using separate water fountains, restrooms and paying poll tax.

Law enforcement cannot do it alone. They need our help.

STOP (Stop The Ongoing Violence) will meet Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Batesville Courthouse in the main courtroom. Everyone is welcome with chairman John Morris challenging citizens to “fill all the pews.”