There was swift karmic justice in the case of the white woman who pulled her gun on a Black couple trying to picnic in Mississippi, but achieving legal justice seemed to be another story.
KOA Kampgrounds quickly fired Ruby Howell after she was seen on video menacing Jessica Richardson and her husband Franklin with a gun at a campground in Starkville. However, despite video evidence of Howell clearly breaking the law, the local police department said it was in no hurry to arrest her.
NewsOne spoke with the Oktibbeha County Sheriffs Department about whether Howell would be facing any charges. Captain Brett Watson said the department has reached out to the parties involved for an interview.
“We are waiting on that to happen,” Watson said in a phone conversation Wednesday. “They’ve indicated they’d like to speak with an attorney first, so we’re sorta waiting on that to happen. And at that point, our intentions would be [to] investigate this thing fully for any potential criminal charges that could come out of it.”
It would seem the Oktibbeha County Sheriffs Department was showing amazing restraint for a crime that Black people are routinely arrested for without having the privilege of police doing their due diligence. Nevermind the fact that the video shows a clear case of Howell intimidating the Richardsons with a gun.
In case you missed it, in a now-viral video, Howell is seen approaching the peaceful couple and their dog while brandishing a gun and demanding that they leave.
“This lady just literally pulled a gun because we’re out here and didn’t have reservations for a lake that we didn’t even know we needed to have reservations for,” Richardson can be heard saying as the video begins.
As Howell stood there clutching her pistol, Richardson tried to tell her that there was a misunderstanding.
“We didn’t know, the only thing you had to do was tell us to leave,” Richardson said. “We would have left. You did not have to pull a gun.
“Well, I’m just telling you, you need to leave because it’s under private ownership,” Howell replied after tucking the gun into her shorts.
The Richardsons would later learn from Howell’s husband that they did not need a reservation to access the lake. Kampgrounds of America (KOA), who employed Howell and ran the campground near the lake, fired Howell on Tuesday after massive backlash. KOA spokesman Mike Gast also released a statement condemning Howell for brandishing a weapon saying KOA “does not condone the use of a firearm in any manner on our properties or those owned and operated by our franchisees.”
But many social media users said they wanted Howell to also face jail time and called for her arrest in comments on her Facebook page, which was made private after the video went viral Tuesday.
“You should be serving jail time for pulling a weapon and threatening the lives of innocent people!” one user commented.
The thing is, although Mississippi is an open-carry state, it is illegal for someone to brandish their weapon in a “rude, angry or threatening manner in the presence of three or more persons.” That was according to Mississippi state law, which also states that a guilty party can face a $500 fine, three months in jail, or both with prosecutors not having to prove that the weapon was “charged, loaded or in a condition to be discharged.”
In so many cases of #ExistingWhileBlack, Black men, women and children have been arrested or detained for trivial things like simply sitting in Starbucks or picking up trash in their own yards. It is safe to say that if Howell was Black and the Richardsons were white, things would obviously be very different.
Regardless of race, Franklin, a sergeant in the Army National Guard who just returned from a nine-month deployment in the Middle East, told local news outlet WCBI he had never experienced having a gun pulled on him during that time.
“It’s kind of crazy,” he said. “You go over there and don’t have a gun pointed at you, and you come back home and the first thing that happens is you have a gun pointed at you.”