Country Rapper Mikel Night has gone on the offensive against critics who he says are making unfair accusations against him and his organization, including the families of victims who have been killed and injured while working for him. Knight claims he has hired private investigators to look into people who are complaining about his treatment of employees, and is working with a Nashville-based law firm to send out lawsuits to certain entities, including Saving Country Music. Meanwhile new details about Mikel Knight’s organization have emerged, and fresh testimonials about the type of treatment street team members face have been made public.
In late May, Saving Country Music took an extended look into the deceptive world of Mikel Knight and his Maverick Dirt Road Street Teams. The country rapper’s teams of CD salesmen fan out across the United States in a large fleet of motor homes and vans wrapped in Mikel Knight signage, usually targeting small towns and setting up shop in Wal-Mart parking lots and gas stations to solicit individuals to purchase music and other merchandise. Knight boasts selling 1.2 million CD’s in this fashion and the street teams continue to operate daily, regularly being spotted in towns in the Southern United States and beyond.
The concern for Mikel Knight and his street teams began to emerge after the story of one former street team member named Ky Rodgers went viral on Facebook. Rogers claimed he was severely injured in an accident in one of the street team vans after being overworked, and witnessed other individuals suffer assault and abandonment by the street teams while working for the organization. Two other individuals, Taylor Robert Nixon and Robert Joseph Underfinger III were both killed in a June 16th, 2014 accident in one of the street team vans. Driver fatigue was deemed to be the cause of the accident. Many former street team members claim they are foced to work long hours with no time off, and drive through the night short on sleep, and in dangerous working conditions.
Meanwhile arrests and complaints about street team behavior continue to pour in, including one from pop country mega DJ Bobby Bones who recently witnessed a near accident involving one of the street team vans, while numerous other former street team members have come forward to corroborate the claims of Ky Rodgers and others of abuse, assault, abandonment, and other offenses while working for Mikel Knight.
Mikel Knight Responds to Critics:
On Saturday, Mikel Knight posted a lengthy response to much of the recent controversy after continuing issues for his street teams with local police have resulted in some high profile media stories and arrests of street team members. A Facebook group called Families Against Mikel Knight and the MDRST (Maverick Dirt Road Street Teams) has been reposting these media stories and former street team testimonials in an attempt to warn families about Mikel Knight’s practices.
“They then get all the locals who are frantic and don’t know the truth to then call the local PD and they start pulling us over and harassing our guys,” Mikel Knight explained in the Facebook post (see full text below). “Then those local TV and newspapers with No major stories in their small town to cover start covering this FB rumor in local papers and then the Families against Mikel Knight FB page shares the local news report on their page and says “see guys they were questioned by local authorities.” Thus making that story have a tiny bit of validity because it was covered by the local press. Then they share that story to 1000 more locals by posting pics and saying “see this story CALL the local police in your area.”
Mikel Knight then took issue with individuals who linked the disappearance of two young men in Oklahoma in early June to him and his street teams.
“They accused the MDRST of kidnapping Cody and Ben from the Rocklahoma concert we were nowhere near,” Mikel Knight said. “All the while they were stopping the police from checking in more important places. Like the boat ramp at the lake where their van was parked and the flood waters drowned them inside.”
On this point, Mikel Knight has a fair complaint. The disappearance of two young men, Cody Parrick and Ben Baber, who had attended the Rocklahoma heavy metal concert on May 23rd in Oklahoma, was unnecessarily and unfairly linked to the Mikel Knight street teams amidst the search. As friends, family, and concerned citizens in the area were attempting to find the two men, they noticed Mikel Knight vans and motorhomes had been in nearby towns and were traveling through the area during the disappearance.
Concerned there might be a connection between the two stories, individuals began sharing Saving Country Music’s previous story on Mikel Knight, and telling individuals to look out for street teams to see if the two missing boys might have been kidnapped by them. Meanwhile some family members, as well as local authorities and investigators, cautioned the public from jumping to conclusions about Mikel Knight’s street teams and the two men’s disappearance. Saving Country Music was contacted by many people, including immediate family members of the missing boys who implored that a story be published about the possibility of Mikel Knight employees being involved in the kidnapping. But heeding requests of the local authorities, no story was run.
The two young men were eventually found on June 7th, drowned in their vehicle near a boat ramp after flooding in the area had concealed the vehicle for days. The unfair link between the disappearance of the two young men and Mikel Knight has also fueled unfounded accusations against Mikel Knight’s organization for engaging in kidnapping, human trafficking, and even sex trafficking. Though some of the activities Mikel Knight has been accused of could be considered elements of human trafficking—including using mental abuse and physical assault to motivate or discipline individuals, and leaving workers in towns if their sales performance is low—saying that Mikel Knight is a human trafficker is probably not a fair representation of the complaints against him.
However Mikel Knight’s exception with the Families Against Mikel Knight and the MDRST Facebook organization for somehow being responsible for linking the Rocklahoma disappearance and his street teams appears to be a stretch. The linking of the two stories occurred organically, and even when family members of the missing men and local authorities pleaded with individuals to not confuse the two stories, it still continued due to the hysteria surrounding the disappearances.
Mikel Knight Threatens Lawsuits & Allegedly Hires Private Investigator(s)
Later in his Facebook post, Mikel Knight explained how he is planning to sue multiple individuals and entities, including Saving Country Music, for what he characterizes as “cyber-bullying.”
“CYBER BULLYING is ILLEGAL AND AGAINST THE LAW,” says Mikel Knight. “So is wasting the PDs time searching for crimes that don’t exist. When this happens to someone you love you will hate it as much as we do. WE DO HAVE THE BEST LAW FIRM IN NASHVILLE representing us and we have already filed suit against several people. But there is a waiting period which we are in before we give the final blow to them. But EVERY LAST one of the ADMINISTRATORS of the hate page is being served with lawsuits plus 3 TV stations, one police dept. and 1 website.”
The website is Saving Country Music, and Saving Country Music has already heard from numerous individuals claiming a private investigator has been hired to investigate this website.
However Mikel Knight’s claims of cyber-bullying are completely uninformed and unfounded, and are simply a move to intimidate individuals who are attempting to inform the public about some of the history and suspicious activity surrounding Mikel Knight and the Maverick Dirt Road Street Teams. With no real defense in the court of public opinion, Mikel Knight is attempting to use fear to quell criticism, and intimidate individuals attempting to inform the public. Nothing done by any entity or individual, including Saving Country Music, comes close to an offense that would warrant a lawsuit, and all activity has fallen well under 1st Amendment rights.
Bullying by Mikel Knight
As for bullying, Mikel Knight has himself been on the sending end of bullying many of his street team members, and has been accused of being verbally and physically abusive towards individuals. Saving Country Music has obtained numerous text messages from a former street team member as an examples of some of the language a treatment they have faced.
As Mikel Knight said in his recent statement, “We were the first and only guys in HISTORY to sell 1.2 MILLION records in 42 states in America Hand to Hand in less than 30 months. We had NO major record label backing, NO radio play and NO major TV exposure. Mostly we sold in rural America.”
Mikel Knight’s strong motivation for sales is why he appears to use threats, fear, and at times physical violence to motivate street team members to meet sales expectations.
Mikel Knight has also sent death threats and other threats to former street team members and other individuals who have spoken out against his organization.
Mikel Knight Never Tours Or Plays Live Shows
Despite all of the CD sales and attention to Mikel Knight, the question remains if it is even fair to label him an artist or performer. Focused on selling CD’s through his street teams, Mikel Knight never tours, despite always promising a tour is coming up in the next season to keep the facade alive that he is a touring musician. At the moment, if you go to Mikel Knight’s tour section on his website, you will see that he is advertising that a tour is coming up in the “Spring of 2015.” However the spring has come and past, and no tour dates have been posted or played.
While researching for this story, a Facebook comment left by Mikel Knight claimed that a tour would be coming up in the late summer. Yet again, no tour dates have been posted well after you would expect tour dates would be made public.
What happened to the tour in the spring of 2015?
Mikel Knight’s real name is Jason Michael Cross, and he has an extensive criminal past which includes multiple counts of aggravated assault, harassment, vandalism, theft, and multiple drivers license violations. He currently has a warrant out for his arrest in Bexar County, TX (San Antonio) stemming from an aggravated assault in 2006.
He is also under probation through the Lebanon, TN Probation Office until 2/19/2016, which could mean it is illegal for him to leave the state until his probation period is up. It also means Mikel Knight could be in violation of his probation for leaving the state, if he has done so as part of his street team activity. Saving Country Music has reached out multiple times to the manager of the Lebanon Probation Office, Ron Joines, to attempt to find out the terms of Mikel Knight’s probation, but no phone calls have been returned.
As opposed to threatening lawsuits against the families of victims who died while working for him in unsafe conditions and spending money on private investigators, Mikel Knight could show his legitimacy as a small businessman by reaching out to the victims and offering restitution or resolution in the complaints against him. Instead he exacerbates the issues for the families by making threats, and attempting to intimidate media outlets and even police departments who are attempting to tell the story and enforce local statutes.
In the video for Mikel Knight’s song “Cowboy Way,” it portrays the country rapper and his organization under the surveillance of authorities who eventually sweep in to shut him down, only to find that he’s moved on. This flaunting of his ability to stay one step ahead of the law is an example of the type of arrogance Mikel Knight operates under. However it almost seems inevitable that at some point Mikel Knight will meet a fate even he seems to be resigned to, yet instead of making efforts to go straight and resolve the issues causing so much controversy with his organization, he embraces them, and continues to attempt to use fear and intimidation to mitigate criticism.
The Complete Mikel Knight Facebook Post:
Let me make this clear for those of you that are unaware of how a lie can be told to so many people through FB and nothing can be done about it. Mikel Knight & The MDRST have done what was NEVER done before in the music business. We were the first and only guys in HISTORY to sell 1.2 MILLION records in 42 states in America Hand to Hand in less than 30 months. We had NO major record label backing, NO radio play and NO major TV exposure. Mostly we sold in rural America. Then a wreck happens and the mothers and aunts of the deceased in the unfortunate accident and some disgruntled employees make a FB page and start one at a time messaging people in the towns we go to sell and tell them that we kidnap people. They then get all the locals who are frantic and don’t know the truth to then call the local PD and they start pulling us over and harassing our guys. Then those local TV and newspapers with No major stories in their small town to cover start covering this FB rumor in local papers and then the Families against Mikel Knight FB page shares the local news report on their page and says “see guys they were questioned by local authorities.” Thus making that story have a tiny bit of validity because it was covered by the local press. Then they share that story to 1000 more locals by posting pics and saying “see this story CALL the local police in your area”. All along knowing we are there to make a living and donate to a local nonprofit charity to help our community. The first success they had with this kind of lie was when they accused the MDRST of kidnapping Cody and Ben from the Rocklahoma concert we were nowhere near. The sick administrators of the hate page had that entire search party looking for Cody and Ben in the MDRST Mikel Knight vans and buses for 2 weeks. 20 vehicles searched about 6 times a day. Totaling hundreds of searches over a 2 week period. All the while they were stopping the police from checking in more important places. Like the boat ramp at the lake where their van was parked and the flood waters drowned them inside. The families against Mikel Knight page did not let anyone know they were lying about it and that MDRST had NOTHING to do with it. We spoke to the detectives who apologized to us and a few family members but all in all the Hate page against us learned something. SAY SOMEONE WAS KIDNAPPED and everyone will go crazy to stop them. Thus the Mikel Knight kidnapping rumor and lie began.
TO SUMMARIZE: About a 100,000 people see or speak to our team a day. We speak to local PD about 8O-100 times a day. There have been no charges, formal investigation, or anyone arrested for anything other than driver’s license suspended, not having a peddlers license and one marijuana paraphernalia arrest. Maybe another one in there but nothing major enough to even remember. So to ALL of you who have met us over the years. You know the truth. If you want your sons and daughter to be taught that if you make history and you become successful that they too can be lied about and harassed and to be forced to stop their dream then you continue to SUPPORT A LIE. But if you want your sons and daughters to grow up and believe they can achieve greatness and success and be anything they want to be then make this post GO VIRAL! SUPPORT THE MDRST- DREAMS ARE THE FUTURE, and we want our children to go after theirs!
To finish up I want to say this. CYBER BULLYING is ILLEGAL AND AGAINST THE LAW. So is wasting the PDs time searching for crimes that don’t exist. When this happens to someone you love you will hate it as much as we do. WE DO HAVE THE BEST LAW FIRM IN NASHVILLE representing us and we have already filed suit against several people. But there is a waiting period which we are in before we give the final blow to them. But EVERY LAST one of the ADMINISTRATORS of the hate page is being served with lawsuits plus 3 TV stations, one police dept. and 1 website, and a lawsuit which appropriately includes Ky Rodgers, Justin Hoskins (who actually drove the van and killed the too young men) and the families of the 2 men.(it’s their families running the site unbeknownst to their own lawyers who found out Thursday I might add. This will be a lesson i will speak about my entire career from this day forward – to STOP Cyber Bullying. Our lawyers needed time to draw up the suits. Build the case and serve them and our private investigators have to track them all down. And that all takes time. But that wait is all but over. The LAW works for the innocent as well. Please if you have ever come across the MDRST, bought our album and or have heard these lies and rumors against us.
POST THIS ON YOUR WALL or on THE PAGE OF A HATER & MOST IMPORTANTLY ON ANY AND ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT & POLICE PAGES..
CYBER BULLYING IS A CRIME!
Note: The Families Against Mikel Knight and the MDRST Facebook page claims to have no direct affiliation with victims’ families, and is actively working to eliminate the “family” from the group’s page.