By J. R. “Randy” Stelly
During his campaign for Parish President, John Richmond posted a video where he tearfully reminisced about his father’s advice, which was “First thing you do, put all your faith and trust in Jesus Christ that He’s going to give you the power, even when you don’t think they need it or deserve it, to love the people you come into contact with; and He’s going to give you the strength to teach; and He’s going to give you the humbleness to learn.” In the video, Richmond says that he doesn’t know that he’s ever heard it put any better, and I agree. Richmond goes on to promise anyone listening that “that’s what I do every day.”
At the time that video was released, I was reminded of the movie Elmer Gantry about the smooth-talking traveling salesmen who convinces a female lay preacher to make him an indispensable part of her roadshow. Just as in the movie, Mr. Richmond was using Christian references in his sales pitch to the voters of Natchitoches Parish and a lot of people fell for it including many of our Black religious leaders who delivered on the majority of the African-American votes cast last year.
Fast forward to May 15th when John Richmond, now Parish President, was involved in an altercation where he bum-rushed Derrion Shields, one of his employees that was being accosted by another employee, Brad Haigler. If you’ve watched the video of the fight, which was recently leaked on Facebook, I ask you, did you see any hint of love or humbleness emanating from John Richmond? Did you see any sense of regret or remorse on Mr. Richmond’s face? Did you feel that Mr. Richmond was taking ownership of his lapse in his good Christian morals?
We initially learned about this incident, not because Mr. Richmond decided to seek forgiveness for his involvement in the altercation but because he filed an incident report with police wherein he alleged that Mr. Shields was the aggressor and that he was merely defending himself. Had the video not been leaked, many of us might have been inclined to believe that or any one of the many other “alternative truths” that were being put out on the street. Thanks to the video evidence, Mr. Richmond and Mr. Haigler have been charged with Simple Battery.
More than likely, Mr. Richmond will get off with nothing more than a mere slap on the wrist for his involvement in the altercation. After all, the charge is only for a misdemeanor, which will not result in his removal from office.
On June 8th, Mr. Richmond spoke during a 100 Black Men event where he stood on the steps of the courthouse and once again turned on the charm by proclaiming to the people of Natchitoches that we can all make a difference. He is right. We, the people, need to demand that Mr. Richmond resign. As Louisianans, we are accustomed to our politicians lying to us but we cannot tolerate violence. Just as with the protesters fighting for equality and justice for all across the world today, we cannot rest until John Richmond is no longer a representative for what Good Government looks like in Natchitoches Parish.
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.