Mississippi Republicans Propose New Bill For All-White Court System In the ‘Blackest City in America’

Mississippi Republicans Propose New Bill For All-White Court System In the ‘Blackest City in America’

When it comes to Mississippi legislation, someone may think it’s still 1950.

Mississippi Today reported a disturbing new bill proposed in the state’s capital of Jackson—named the “Blackest city in America.” House Bill 1020 proposed to create a separate court system and expand the police force for the city with all-white state officials.

The breakdown looks like this: For a new district in the city that includes primarily white neighborhoods, the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, who is white, would appoint two new judges. Then, the state attorney general, also white, would appoint four prosecutors, a public defender, and a court clerk. Lastly, the white state public safety commissioner would supervise an expanded Capitol Police force, currently run by a white chief.

The bill was generally popular on Tuesday, passing 76–38, according to Mississippi Today, by the supermajority of white Republican legislators. However, the bill still needs approval from the state Senate and governor to become an official law.

Written by Rep. Trey Lamar (R-MS), CNBC reports the bill was created to tackle growing crime rates in the city, arguing for the expanded police force. “This bill is designed to make our capital city of Jackson, Mississippi, a safer place,” Lamar said. Black Democrats were not happy that the bill was presented at all. Rep. Ed Blackmon (D-MS) heavily opposed the bill and said crime is not what this is about. “Only in Mississippi would we have a bill like this … where we say solving the problem requires removing the vote from Black people,” Blackmon said, according to CNBC.

The local news outlet reports that Jackson, Mississippi, is 80% Black and home to a higher percentage of Black residents than any major American city. Controlled by white Republicans, Mississippi’s legislature has redrawn districts for over 30 years, hoping to pass bills without a single Democratic vote. Every legislative Republican is white, and many, like Lamar, live miles away from the state’s capital.