A man whose Facebook posts became the center of a political spat between and city councilor and Mobile Police Chief James Barber has been arrested for his comments online.
According to police, Quinten Russell was arrested July 19 on warrants for second-degree criminal mischief and harassment as a result of “terroristic threats” he made against law enforcement.
Last week, Barber called a press conference to publicly condemn Mobile City Councilman Levon Manzie for inviting Russell to speak in favor of a police citizens advisory council for the MPD — a proposal Manzie has supported and Barber initially opposed.
The invitation came in the comment section of one of Russell’s social media posts pushing “councilmen to do something” about the recent officer-involved shooting in June where MPD officer Harold Hurt shot and killed 19-year-old Michael Moore during a traffic stop.
The same post also said “F*** Chief Barber,” but it was Russell’s other posts that concerned police the most — like the one calling Hurst a “pig” and urging others to “shoot” him or another calling the man who shot and killed five police officers in Dallas earlier this month a “martyr.”
“Is this his idea of citizens’ oversight of the police?” Barber asked. “Because if it is, I will have no part of it,” Barber said before the leaving the press conference and refusing to take questions.
Lagniappe later confirmed Barber never attempted to contact Manzie before live-streaming his statements on the MPD’s Facebook page or prior to the department releasing screenshots of Russell and Manzie’s social media comments to the public.
Manzie later denied having any knowledge of the incident prior to commenting on Russell’s post about the city council and disavowed what he called “sickening and appalling” comments.
Those same comments have now landed Russell behind bars at the Mobile Metro Jail, where he was taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon. According to police, Russell also had a felony warrant for manufacturing marijuana out of Coweta County Georgia and is currently awaiting extradition to face those charges.
Locally, Russell has seen similar charges before, as jail records indicate he was booked on second-degree criminal mischief and harassing communications charges in 2012 and third-degree criminal mischief charges two other previous occasions.
Meanwhile, the debate of a police citizens advisory council has continued on the city council and with Mayor Sandy Stimpson, who until this week, was completely opposed to the idea.
Then on Monday, Stimpson reversed course — proposing a compromise that would give the Mayor seven appointments to a 14-member council and leave the remaining seven for the city council.
However, Moore’s family have criticized the idea of Stimpson or the chief of police selecting seats on any body created to the review their practices on behalf of the public. In fact, D.J. Larry, Moore’s cousin, said they wouldn’t support a review board under the Mayor’s current proposal.
“It is well known that police departments censor themselves very well,” Larry said in a statement to Lagniappe. “There have been too many complaints and issues that citizens feel have not been addressed appropriately. The establishment of a CRB with the appropriate power will improve both community trust and the ability for law enforcement to become more community friendly.”
Additionally, in order to ensure a police citizens advisory council is effective, Larry said it would have to have subpoena powers in order to get “needed information” without “contamination.”
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