From Macon Monitor Staff Reports, supervised by Dave Oedel
Both the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions in theory shield individuals from governmental retaliation against those who speak out against perceived governmental indiscretion.
Macon citizen Johntellis Mathis, along with another Macon citizen, G-Rell, spoke out against prosecutorial over-aggressiveness with respect to gang affiliation last week in the Macon Monitor. Among other things, both men suggested that gang affiliation is not a fair basis in local context for holding people to lengthy prison terms in addition to the terms imposed for whatever crimes that those individual defendants may have committed. Mathis’ picture appears with this post.
Mathis, who noted his own personal affiliations with the GD and Blacc Team gangs, suggested in his interview with the Macon Monitor that the police and gangs in Macon might get together to rid the community of guns held by people without a legal right to wield them.
That olive branch was not picked up. Instead, Mathis became the subject of a warrant for arrest that was relayed to the press on or about May 19 or 20, 2015, at least two days after the Mathis interview appeared in the Macon Monitor on May 17, 2015. Mathis is apparently to be charged with threats in connection with gun possession, plus gang-related charges.
Some Macon citizens asserted to the Macon Monitor this week that the underlying warrant for Mathis’ arrest issued after the Monitor’s story appeared on May 17, 2015, and appears to have been retaliatory.
The Monitor has not yet been able to view the Mathis warrant to confirm its date of issuance or the substance of its charges, despite repeated requests to local officials to confirm the date of the warrant and charges. However, no official has denied to the Macon Monitor that the warrant issued after the Macon Monitor story appeared.
Mathis has not yet been arrested, though he has indicated that he plans to turn himself in to face the charges.
The press release concerning the Mathis warrant indicated that the allegedly offensive incident involving Mathis occurred in December of 2014, about six months ago. One explanation offered by a local official that might explain the delay in seeking the arrest of Mathis was that some information used to support the warrant was secured only recently, but still prior to Mathis’ interview with the Macon Monitor.
That local official suggested off the record that Mathis and G-Rell are playing the Macon Monitor, and that there is basis for believing that Mathis and G-Rell are worthy of serious official scrutiny well beyond the terms of the warrant issued last week for Mathis’ arrest. That official said that any suggestion that Mathis is the subject of retaliation would be “blown out of the water.”
However, another local official suggested off the record that Mathis has likely been targeted by other local officials who appear concerned that the Macon Monitor interview of Mathis and G-Rell is threatening to undermine some authorities’ pet focus on black gangs in Bibb County.
Sources indicate that Mathis is not a convicted felon and has not lost his right to carry a gun. That was not true for Derrick Booze, who is wanted in connection with the Saturday, May 23, 2015 gunshot death of La’Smockie Fountain. While Bibb authorities were issuing a splashy press release earlier that week to pick up Mathis who was criticizing the authorities publicly, Booze, who already had warrants outstanding for his arrest and was a convicted felon, was not highlighted, nor apparently had he previously been highlighted with a press release.
The Monitor has now discovered that Booze should have been especially high on the radar of local authorities because Fountain had secured a protective order against Booze in 2014 from Bibb County Superior Court.
On the surface at least, it would appear that the authorities were barking up the wrong tree last week, going after Mathis aggressively rather than someone like Booze, who may then have killed Fountain in cold blood after considerable warnings, of which attentive authorities should have been aware.
The suspicion is growing that local authorities in Bibb County are spending more time pursuing gang affiliates and public complainers instead of more dangerous suspects.
The Monitor is studying these issues and the respective assertions, and will report on its further inquiries in the future. Meanwhile, confidential information can be relayed via email to email@example.com or by phone to 478-973-1947.