Ken Stuart a Lieutenant for the Mississippi State Capitol Police verbally stated this information to Mike Sawyer but Stuart refused to sign at Sawyer's request.


Mississippi State Capitol police park here for over an hour watching Mike Sawyer while doing his public mission promoting the Override Veto of the recent Tax Swap Bill that Governor Haley Barbour vetoed. This bill would have removed the $.07 sales tax on food and groceries while placing a new tax on cigarettes.


Here you can see how empty the First Baptist Church parking lot is in the background.

Mike a Security Staff member of First Baptist Church, in Jackson, Mississippi


Last Monday morning February 6,  I was setting up to do my public mission to support the Mississippi House and Senate to override Governor's Haley Barbour's (a tobacco lobbyist) veto of the Tax Swap Bill which would remove the $.07 sales tax off food and groceries and place on cigarettes.

Ken Stuart a Lieutenant for the Mississippi State Capitol Police pulled up with another policeman and informed me that I couldn't walk on the sidewalks around the Capitol building or across the street with a sign without a permit.

Unbelievable that  Lt. Stuart could not tell me how long this permit process would take to get authorized.

I told Lt. Stuart that I was the only one involved in my mission.

Stuart seems to be concerned about me interfering with citizens walking on the sidewalks.

(What about smokers interfering with my right to breathe on their Mississippi State Capitol sidewalks?)

When I asked the police how they felt about the Governor's veto of this Tax Swap Bill they immediately declared because of their job they couldn't comment.

I asked Lt. Stuart if he smoked, and he responded that was more or less none of my business.

My cell phone allowed me to call my friend in Lexington, Kentucky, and he called the 601-359-3630 number  Lt. Stuart gave me to get a permit, and discovered it required five days for the permit to be approved.

Lt. Stuart also told me that I couldn't set up my display in the First Baptist Church of Mississippi's parking lot; he stated that the state leased this parking lot.

However, contrary to that about the church parking lot, the FBC security guard Mike told me that he didn't think the state leased this parking lot, and granted me permission to remain.

I respected the Lt. Stuart's authority and conducted my public mission display as near the capitol as possible at the intersection of President and State Streets.

One policeman with the State Capitol Police parked in the empty FBC parking lot for over an hour in front of me. Maybe protecting me or taunting me?

If, I had been younger I may have allowed this negative treatment to discourage me by fleeing this public mission work to help the poor who don't smoke.

While feeling this treatment from the State Capitol Police I started thinking about how much courage Rosa Parks and others for Civil Rights must have had in Montgomery, Alabama.

Standing by the busy intersection promoting pizzas for 5 bucks or a group of protesting union employees may be a little safer.

 "Make peace with your adversary while you are in the way with him, else he bring you before the judge," where is this written?

See some pictures at:

With compassion,

Mike Sawyer
Executive Director
I Will Never Use Tobacco, Inc.501 (c) 3
6401 Colony Park Drive
Birmingham, Alabama 35243 

Big tobacco would have aborted the Internet if it had only known the collective power it would have to expose and defeat it.


Encouraging words



I was afraid that you may have run into problems like this. I knew that any group protesting, downtown Lexington has to get a permit to do so but didn't know that ONE person stating their opinion needed a permit. So much for free speech huh? Can you imagine the hassle if you were black trying to do this? As you said, makes you think what Rosa Parks, MLK, earlier activist had to endure.   Take care. Keep the faith!



Mike, You're doing a great thing. Hang in there.



    Good f/ you f/ not letting them bully you out of getting your message
out, but not putting yourself in real danger either by refusing to
comply. Really admire your willingness to talk to people, esp smokers.
It still seems bizarre to me that a government would tax necessities
while refusing to tax its number one preventable cause of death and
disease. That governor is a real dinosaur; let's hope his political
career meets with the same fate they did.

Like I said before, your passion is clearly showing.  I admire your
determination and bravery in the face of harassment.  You may have to
wait until Heaven to get your reward!  Who knows what effect even
seeing your signs may have on someone.  You are planting seeds.

I remember going through things such as this when I picketed, marched, etc. for ERA tights in the 70s, lobbying against inhumane animal treatment and abuse over about 4 decades and my work as a boycott organizer with the AFL/CIO and United Farm Workers, etc.   It's a fact that no change is ever made without this type of nonsense that is heaped upon those brave enough to confront the status quo.  You are a brave and dedicated man - keep up the good work. 

Brother Mike:  Boy, oh boy!!!!!   I am of the opinion that there will never,,,I said,,NEVER,,BE
as you are!   You are something else, Mike!!!!   I have to take off my hat and place it over my heart in reverence for your determination to influence any and all smokers to quit their horrible and costly habit!   There probably are many who sympathize with you and your efforts but getting them onboard your vessel is the log jam in the river!!   I wish I had the nerve and youth and stamina to join you in full commitment but at 90 years of age and committed to so many community affairs here in (omitted), I just could not join you in your worthy cause!

All I can do really is encourage you to continue what you are doing,,,,and if you can persuade just one,,,,,"one" young smoker,,,or even an older person,,,to quit their smoking habit,,you have done a wonderful thing for that person and society too! 
Now Mike,,hang in there,,,don't get discouraged,,,I think you are great!!     Love   Earl








Please return home with a healthy heart


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