Mississippi Prosecutor: ‘We Can Only Hope’ Deadly COVID Strain Spreads In Riots
A prosecutor in Madison County, Mississippi, is defending herself after posting — and later deleting — a Facebook comment in which she suggested that it would be good if “the deadly strain” of the coronavirus spread among rioters who are protesting police brutality.
According to Mississippi Today, second-term prosecutor Pamela Hancock commented on another person’s Facebook post that read: “Does Covid spread during massive street riots or just in bars and restaurants? Asking for a friend.”
Hancock replied: “We can only hope the deadly (coronavirus) strain spreads in riots!”
She defended the now-deleted comment to Mississippi Today, saying: “My job is to prosecute all crimes, including civil disobedience. I’m against any breach of peace or criminal activity, and I would prosecute it. I have nothing against people peacefully protesting, but breaking into businesses and stealing things is a crime.”
Asked about her suggestion regarding the virus killing rioters, Hancock said she “was really just making light of it.”
“I was not serious about wanting anyone to die. That’s not who I am. The post was kind of a joke, and I was attempting to joke back. Obviously, I did it very poorly. If you ask anybody that knows me, I don’t hold any ill will towards anyone or any group. I only try to be fair.”
Hancock also “discussed, unprompted, how her Facebook post had been perceived as racist,” Mississippi Today reported.
The prosecutor said she “never meant to offend anybody,” adding that the comment “was not directed toward anyone except for people that were rioting.”
She added: “What I saw on TV seemed to be people of all races. If you ask anybody that knows me, I don’t hold any ill will towards anyone or any group.”
Hancock also said that when she prosecutes, she doesn’t “look at someone’s color. I look at the crime they committed, the facts of the case… I only try to be fair.”
Brandon Jones, policy director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Jackson, lamented Hancock’s social media comment:
“It’s been an incredibly difficult few days. You’d hope in moments like this that people throughout the law enforcement community and certainly prosecutors would be reflective about how we talk about these issues. Because she’s an elected official, it’s an office of public trust. Frankly, (her post) sends all the wrong messages.
“We worry when people like Ms. Hancock say these things because of what message it might send to people who might have to face her in court. It erodes the public’s trust that they’re going to be treated fairly with comments like this, even if they were in jest.”