Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Frank Melton was indicted last Friday on six felony counts related to the partial destruction of a suspected drug house last month. He was also charged with three gun violations, one of them a felony, and faces up to 50 years in prison. Two Jackson police detectives who acted as Melton's bodyguards were also indicted in the drug house attack.
As mayor of Jackson since July 2005, Melton has continued his vigilante-style drug warrior and crime-fighter antics. He kicked off his mayoralty with a three-day crime sweep "just to let people know we're out there," as he put it at the time. Those periodic sweeps, complete with Mayor Melton riding around in the Jackson Police Mobile Command Unit in a police commando uniform, continued throughout his tenure, including one last December that netted dozens of truant school children.
Melton's wannabe cop activities sparked community outrage and concern earlier this year, prompting Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson to investigate whether he had committed any crimes. The DA came up short in the spring, but when Melton, his bodyguards, and some of the teenage boys he typically has staying with him broke their way into what Melton called "a crack house" last month, he went too far.
Melton and his wrecking crew attacked the front of the home with sledgehammers, knocking down part of the front wall of a home rented by a man named Evans Welch. There was no evidence of cocaine trafficking, but Welch was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has since been released from jail.
Melton and his gang were acting without a search warrant or any apparent probable cause. Now, he will get to try to convince a court that he should not be sent to prison for violating the law in his fevered enthusiasm for supporting it.
Although there is now a growing chorus of calls for his resignation, the crime-fighting mayor still has support within the city, including the poor Virden Addition neighborhood where the sledgehammer attack occurred. The Jackson Courier-Ledger reported Tuesday night that some 150 Melton supporters carrying signs reading things like "Find Frank Melton Not Guilty" converged on a Jackson city council meeting that evening to demonstrate their support.