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Monday, April 2, 2012

No jail time for men charged with assaulting Gould mayor

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 4:59 PM

click to enlarge Gould Mayor Earnest Nash assault image
  • FOX 16
  • NASH: After the assault.

Gould Mayor Earnest Nash assault image
  • FOX 16
  • NASH: After the assault.

The two men charged with assaulting Gould Mayor Earnest Nash last July will not face jail time, according to the Gould Citizens Advisory Council. Don Smith saw his felony assault charge reduced to misdemeanor battery and faces 12 months of unsupervised probation. His brother Decarlos Smith saw his charges dismissed altogether.

The Smiths are related Rosieanna Smith-Lee, a member of the Gould city council, which has been battling with Mayor Nash for several years. In an interview with the Times last year, Nash said Smith-Lee and her fellow city council member Sonja Farley and Harry Hall were present at the time of the attack.

Formed almost a decade ago, the civic group Gould Citizens Advisory Council received national attention last year after the Gould city council passed ordinances restricting the GCAC from meeting within city limits and prohibiting the creation of new civic organizations without council approval. The council also passed an ordinance prohibiting the mayor from meeting with any citizen group without council approval. The unconstitutional ordinances were later overturned.

“The message seems to be, if you try to resolve political disputes with violence, then the most you can
expect is a slap on the wrist. I just don’t understand that,” said GCAC president Curtis Mangrum of the sentencing of the Smiths in a statement, which you can read in full on the jump.

(Gould, ARK, April 2, 2011) – The Gould Citizens Advisory Council is outraged and in dismay at what
happened at the Lincoln County Courthouse today.

Two people who were charged with assaulting the Mayor of Gould will see little to no consequences
for their actions. Don Smith had his felony assault charge reduced to misdemeanor battery and faces 12
months of unsupervised probation. His brother Decarlos Smith had his charges dismissed altogether.
The defendants were charged with assaulting Mayor Earnest Nash last fall, including allegedly beating
him with a pistol. They are relatives of Rosieanna Smith-Lee who currently serves on the Gould City
Council, and who has been in open conflict with Mayor Nash since her election in 2010.

“The message seems to be, if you try to resolve political disputes with violence, then the most you can
expect is a slap on the wrist. I just don’t understand that,” said GCAC president Curtis Mangrum.
This case has been plagued with irregularities since the assault on the Mayor took place last year. It
took weeks to arrest the assailants despite the fact that the assault took place in broad daylight with
several witnesses, many of which were never even interviewed by the police. The fact that the assailants
are relatives of the mayor’s political rivals was overlooked by the investigation, and the possibility that
this was an act of political intimidation through coercive force has not been explored.

GCAC has been bringing residents in the Gould community together for almost a decade. We have been
trying to get more people involved in the political process because we believe that in this country, all
citizens have the right to participate in the decision making process for their community. The actions by
the mayor’s assailants—and the fact that they are barely being held accountable—put all of that at risk.

If we allow individuals to commit violence against elected officials with impunity, then our democracy
could deteriorate into a frightening system where brute force is the law of the land.

“GCAC will continue our work to bring residents together to build a better Gould, and we can only hope
that we have seen the worst of the turmoil in our city so that we can start to move forward again,” said
Mangrum.

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