Two cockfights cancelled in Kentucky, but two go on in Mississippi despite tips to Lee County Sheriff Department
TUPELO, Mississippi––Driving south with the Showing Animals Respect & Kindness [SHARK] drone squadron, through Kentucky en route to Mississippi on the first weekend of January 2023, SHARK founder Steve Hindi felt gratified to discover that two of the scheduled cockfighting derbies to which SHARK had alerted law enforcement had been cancelled.
Hindi and team found no signs of cockfights underway at either the Hawk’s Nest pit, in Pike County, Kentucky, long operated by Charles “Magoo” Dixon, or the Lonesome Ridge pit on Johnson Knob in Wayne County.
“Magoo” Dixon misses a date
Repeatedly droning both sites in recent years, while Kentucky State Trooper post nine, with jurisdiction in Pike County, over and over failed to respond to tips that illegal cockfights were underway, Hindi was particularly happy to see that even though post nine had not responded to SHARK, again, someone had apparently persuaded Dixon to shut down, at least for that weekend.
Crossing through Tennessee into Mississippi, however, Hindi found a different situation.
SHARK had days earlier informed Jim H. Johnson, the Lee County Sheriff, that intercepted cockfighting schedules showed three cockpits with events planned for early January 2023, all in Lee County.
Two of the scheduled cockfighting derbies were set for January 7, 2023, but Johnson and sheriff’s deputies had apparently done nothing with the tips.
Things happening down in Mississippi
“There are two active cockfights happening right now in Mississippi!” SHARK emailed to supporters throughout the U.S., many of them in the cockfighting strongholds of Appalachia, where enough citizens are fed up with cockfighting and the other crimes associated with it that SHARK in recent years has had no shortage of information from locals about when and where cockfights will be held.
SHARK supplied the addresses of both alleged Mississippi cockfighting locations.
“Tom Williams is holding an active cockfight right now at 741 County Road 2578, Guntown,” SHARK specified.
“DL Parker is also holding an active cockfight right now, at 159A County Road 2350, Baldwyn,” SHARK continued. “The land is owned by Ben and Melinda Parker.
“We believe that the sheriff will do nothing”
“Highway Patrol will likely try to tell you that this is not their jurisdiction,” Hindi mentioned, after asking SHARK members to call Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop F as well as the Lee County Sheriff Department.
“However,” Hindi explained, “we believe that the sheriff will do nothing.”
Hindi may have been right about that.
Hindi called the Lee County Sheriff Department to find out.
“Sheriff Johnson was advised of two active cockfights,” Hindi told the dispatcher.
“We are aware of the fight,” responded the dispatcher, “and as officers are available they advised they are going to go check it out. We’ve had other pressing calls this morning to deal with.”
So what were those other pressing calls?
“Take out the papers and the trash”
The Lee County Sheriff’s Department page on Facebook mentions nothing of note occurring over the entire weekend of January 7-8, 2023.
But Avery Hilliard of WTVA 9 News in Tupelo, the Lee County seat, indicated on January 9, 2023 that Sheriff Johnson might have been busy accepting accolades for picking up trash, cockfighters not included.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation, Hilliard broadcast, had honored the Lee County Sheriff’s Department “for its excellence in keeping Lee County a beautiful place” by sending jail inmates out to gather litter.
Local news reports indicate that the Lee County Sheriff’s Department did have a busy week from January 9, 2023 through January 13, 2023, including making arrests in a murder case, several drug-related cases, and even one gambling case involving a suspected cockfighter, but details were unavailable.
As the intercepted cockfighting schedules also show cockfighting derbies coming up in Lee County on January 14 and 15, 2023, Hindi tried again, but this time he put his appeal to Lee County Sheriff Jim H. Johnson on public record, at https://youtu.be/eY_H2ezhULo.
“The DL Parker pit will hold a cockfight on January 14, 2023 near Baldwyn, Mississippi,” the Showing Animals Respect & Kindness online video states.
“The Buddy Baughman pit will hold a cockfight on January 15, 2023 near Shannon, Mississippi,” the video continues.
In a direct message to the Lee County Sheriff Department, Hindi noted that, “Now that these locations are outed, days and times may change. Feel free to call me any time. I hope we can work together to permanently stop these cruel, illegal operations.”
Cockfighting is illegal under U.S. law
Hindi reminded Sheriff Johnson, and the SHARK online audience, that cockfighting is illegal under federal law throughout all 50 U.S. states, as well as prohibited by state legislation in every state, including Mississippi.
Lee County, however, located high in the northeast quadrant of Mississippi, appears to have always had difficulty with accepting that it is part of the United States.
After fighting on the losing side in the U.S. Civil War, residents of Itawamba and Pontotoc counties split from those counties to become Lee County on October 26, 1866, named after Robert E. Lee, who led the 1861-1865 military uprising in defense of slavery and opposition to the U.S. government.
Claims to fame
Since then, Itawamba County, though 92% white, has become known for hosting a major Martin Luther King Day parade.
Pontotoc County was identified as the most corrupt county in Mississippi by “Operation Pretense,” a 1982-1988 FBI undercover investigation of county purchasing that eventually brought the conviction of 71 public officials and vendors allegedly serving 55 counties.
Lee County, except that Elvis Presley was born there, remains widely known for nothing at all.
Sheriff said of state rep: “He’s worse than a black person”
Sheriff Jim H. Johnson, 60, working in law enforcement since 1982, was elected sheriff in 2004 after a 2001 interim stint. Johnson also serves on the state board of law enforcement standards and training.
A Republican, in a county which has not favored a Democrat in a national election since 1980, Johnson won re-election in 2019 with 69% of the vote.
This came after Johnson in August 2017 said of Tupelo, Mississippi state representative Shane Aguirre, in an email to Lee County district one supervisor Phil Morgan, during a discussion of conditions at the Lee County jail, “He’s worse than a black person, your(sic) not going to please him.”
The incident made headlines, not only in local media but in USA Today.
Explained Johnson afterward, “I was aggravated at (Aquirre). There was probably no call for mentioning anything of race. I think when you play the race card,” Johnson added, “yes, it’s difficult to please some people.”
The other local state rep tried to legalize cockfighting
Up for re-election in 2023, Johnson will be challenged by Lee County district 4 Justice Court judge Anthony Rogers, who is relinquishing his seat to run for sheriff.
“Before being elected judge,” recalled Caleb McCluskey of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, the county seat and birthplace of entertainer Elvis Presley, on December 17, 2022, “Rogers was a Lee County deputy sheriff assigned to Lee County Youth Court. He worked for the Tupelo Police Department before moving to and becoming police chief in Plantersville. He later returned to Tupelo and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.”
Plantersville became briefly notorious in 1996 when state representative Steve Holland of Plantersville, who still represents Lee County in the Mississippi legislature, sneaked a provision that would have legalized cockfighting into a pending bill without telling fellow lawmakers.
The bill was withdrawn and amended.
Holland, chair of the Mississippi state house agriculture committee chairman at the time, reportedly called breeding gamecocks for fighting “an emerging agribusiness.”
Jamaka Petzak says
Surely beautiful land. And wonderful birds, social and intelligent.
I’ll just stop there.
Sharing with gratitude, and all the rest.
Backwoods Mississippi with its Sheriff Barneys. The only thing it has going for it is absolute immunity to parody. I only recently discovered SHARK’s numerous videos on YouTube and was astonished by how Steve Hindi is not afraid to name names, give out addresses and telephone numbers, and publicly unmask specific cockfighters, pigeon shooters, rodeo clowns and their facilitators in government, law enforcement and the media. I’ve never seen anything before remotely like it from any public interest group let alone the timid weenies who run HSUS, ASPCA, AHA, et al. Calling-out specific miscreants is way better than platitudes and weepy commercials with sobbing narrators designed solely to elicit donations. I’m glad Steve Hindi is licensed to carry a firearm and reportedly knows how to use it. He’s a brave man for choosing to take these degenerates head-on. Refreshingly, a tough-guy rather than a pushover.
Merritt Clifton says
Among the many noteworthy aspects of Steve Hindi’s work in animal advocacy––all of it as an unpaid volunteer––is that although he is licensed to carry a gun and knows how to use it, he never once has pulled or threatened to pull a firearm, even when multiple hunters, cockfighters, pigeon shooters, bull-riders, et al have been beating the hell out of him.