Fifteen Years For Cutting In Line At Wal-mart....Does Race Have a Place in Kennett Dispute?


A 24-year-old woman from Kennett, Missouri, is slated to go on trial tomorrow for alleged crimes stemming from a bizarre-o incident at Wal-mart more than two years ago. 

The Associated Press reports that Heather Ellis faces fifteen years behind bars for assaulting police officers and resisting arrest after she cut the line at the discount store.


Protestors reportedly filled the small town's streets yesterday, and St. Louis defense attorney Scott "Free" Rosenblum is endeavoring to clear Ellis' name. The Ku Klux Klan is even alleged to have sent Ellis a message. 

Not your typical day in Kennett. Or is it? 
A little background from the AP:

Witnesses have told authorities Ellis cut in front of waiting customers at the Walmart in Kennett on Jan. 6, 2007, shoved merchandise already placed on a conveyor belt out of the way, and became belligerent when confronted, according to court filings. 

Ellis maintains she was merely joining her cousin, whose checkout line was moving more quickly. She claimed in a written complaint to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that she was then pushed by a white customer, hassled by store employees, called racial slurs and physically mistreated by Kennett police officers. 

Police say in court documents that Ellis refused requests to calm down and leave the property, allegedly kicking one's shin and splitting another's lip.

The NAACP held a rally on Ellis' behalf in Kennett in April, after which the KKK allegedly, uh, intervened. 

"Police officers found threatening letters the size of business cards scattered along the route that said the Ku Klux Klan had paid a visit and 'the next visit will not be social,'" reports the AP. "Dunklin County Prosecutor Stephen Sokoloff said the cards were removed and the source investigated but never discovered. He said he doubts the cards actually were from the KKK; he knows of no KKK presence in the area."

The KKK did not answer the phone when the AP called for comment. 

What do you think: A black-and-white crime? Or a crime where black (skin) and white (skin) make for a situation-normal-all-effed-up?


Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.