By Christopher Young,
Push-back from members of the community, justice and advocacy groups, lawmakers and elected officials from the City of Jackson and Hinds County rallied on the Capitol steps Tuesday, January 31 at 10 a.m. against HB 1020 – which would create a separate judicial system for the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) and expand the CCID to the northeast.
Danyelle Holmes of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign and Rukia Lumumba of the People’s Advocacy Institute led the press conference/rally of approximately 250 people in thirty-eight-degree weather and overcast skies.
Mayor Chokwe Lumumba indicated that this Bill (HB1020) “allows for a military force to be placed over the City of Jackson…taking the power out of the hands of the residents who elect the officials that have the authority to make decisions, such as our judges and places it in the hands of a Supreme Court that does not think the same way that the people of Jackson think…it is colonization is what it is…and they would do this with your money; additional tax dollars that come out of the City of Jackson…the City stands strong with you and we will fight to the very end.” The Mayor also called out black contractors, saying “if you’re going to enjoy this black wealth, then you need to support this black city.”
Representative Edward Blackmon Jr. (D-57) harkened the crowd to “1961 when over 300 people walked the streets of Jackson and gathered at the fairgrounds for one thing – the right to vote. To hear the people back here behind us, this Bill is all about safety – that is not what it is about. No other residents are being asked to prop up a government within a government. I call this CCID district New Jack City – a city within a city. Once you get in the practice of taking away votes, then it’s not going to stop in Jackson, Mississippi.”
Brook Floyd, coordinator with Jackson People’s Assembly, spoke about “expanding the reach of the Capitol Police and creating a new court will not stop the violence. We have to get to the root – we know this and all the research and evidence support this. Communities with fully funded education, healthcare, quality and affordable housing, and jobs with livable wages have lower incidences of violence. All these things our state has refused to fund.”
Rukia Lumumba never hesitates, “I’m talking about the elephant in the room – this is about race. HB1020 would require that over 18% of Jackson’s normal tax revenue be given to the CCID. The proposed expansion of the CCID goes into the residential northeast Jackson, miles from downtown, where the Capitol Police who have shot or killed numerous black people recently have no right or reason to be.” She reminded us that the plan calls for all key people to be appointed, not elected. “HB1020 is ruthless. It is an attack on our rights as people of this place, who love this place, who love our city and who love our state. It is dangerously anti-democratic, and it is something that must be stopped.”
A handout was distributed titled Jackson-based Groups Oppose Capitol Police, Expansion Bill. In part it reads, “Our coalition of Jackson organizations and residents is adamantly opposed to House Bill 1020. This bill is another unprecedented attempt to strip power away from the City of Jackson. We have opposed the state’s other attempts to undermine Jackson’s leadership during the attempt to take over the Jackson airport, school system and water system. We remain opposed. Our message to the state is simple: We support Black Leadership!
“Additionally, we are opposed to the existence of Capitol Police, who have shot and/or killed several unarmed black men over the past year. We are also opposed to the section in HB1020 that would empower a slate of all-white Mississippi state officials to appoint unelected judges and unelected prosecutors in majority-black Hinds County. The Sheriffs’ duties of the new CCID judicial system would be carried out by the unelected Chief of the Capitol District Police.”
The handout listed needed programs such as credible messengers, more mental health workers, program to help engage youth, violence interruption programs – all with the goal of helping families in trauma and dealing with crime and mental health issues.
Supporters of this rally included Peoples Advocacy Institute, Mississippi Poor Peoples Campaign, Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, Jackson NAACP, One Voice, Clergy for Prison Reform, MacArthur Justice Center, Mississippi Center for Justice, and A New Day Coalition for Equity for Black America (ANCEBA).
There were eighteen speakers in all over the course of the seventy-five-minute-long rally.
Rukia Lumumba reminded the crowd that the Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens has spoken out against HB1020, as well as Hinds County judges, the Hinds County Legislative Black Caucus and all of Hinds County Board of Supervisors.
You could feel a sense of unity and determination flowing, perhaps summed up best by State Representative William “Bo” Brown, who was not one of the speakers, but numerous times throughout was heard shouting – “The day the City of Jackson came together.”
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