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Prosecutor suggests virus should spread in riots

(AP) — A county prosecutor in Mississippi has come under fire, and a community college band director in the state has resigned, due to comments they made on social media about national protests over the death of George Floyd.

Madison County Prosecutor Pamela Hancock has since deleted a Facebook comment made over the weekend that said “we can only hope the deadly strain” of the coronavirus “spreads in riots,” news outlets reported.

Her post drew criticism, including by Monique Harrison Henderson, a commentator on Facebook who said Hancock’s words matter since she “makes decisions about which black people to prosecute,” the Clarion Ledger reported. “People shouldn’t wish death on anyone,” Henderson said.

The second-term prosecutor defended herself in an interview with Mississippi Today saying she was “really just making light of it” and was “not serious about wanting anyone to die.” Hancock told the news outlet she has “nothing against people peacefully protesting,” adding that she is “against any breach of peace or criminal activity.”

Meanwhile, Pearl River Community College Band Director Reuben McDowell resigned from his job after receiving backlash over a Facebook post where he said police should “start shootin a few” protesters in San Diego “and the rest will scatter,” WLOX-TV reported. He added that law enforcement should use “overwhelming force” and “make some examples.”

Dr. Adam Breerwood, the president of the college, said in a statement that McDowell’s comments “do not reflect the values” of the school, and the college “does not tolerate the promotion of violence, hate or racism.”

Mississippi to pay $5M to settle food stamp data claims

(AP) — The Mississippi Department of Human Services will pay $5 million to the federal government to settle claims that it manipulated reporting within a food assistance program and received undeserved performance bonuses.

The settlement announced Monday stems from allegations that Julie Osnes Consulting, LLC, gave the state recommendations which injected bias into its federal reporting for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.

Mississippi hired the consulting company in 2011, but the office states the settlement involves alleged false reporting data for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Alaska, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as Osnes Consulting and its owner, have reached settlements with the government in the federal investigation, the release stated.

The settlement resolves the allegations but there has been no determination of liability, according to the release.