UPDATE: Mississippi GOP One Step Closer To Making Blackest City In America A ‘Police State’
In February, it was reported that a disturbing new bill proposed by Mississippi Republicans would create a separate court system and expand the police force for the city with all-white state officials.
Now, NBC News reports lawmakers voted to give more power to a state police agency in Jackson, known as the “Blackest city in America,” accused of shooting four people since last summer. The Mississippi Capitol Police will send them to patrol all of Jackson as a tactic by mostly white Republican state officials to exert more control over law enforcement in the majority-Black, Democrat-led capital.
The state Senate approved the new measure last week, and it now goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.
Other measures passed last month will create a temporary court system outside of city control, with seats held by judges appointed by the state Supreme Court chief justice and prosecutors appointed by the state attorney general. These appointed officials would handle low-level cases in a section of the city known as the Capitol Complex Improvement District. While Republican and Democratic leaders mostly agree on the need to keep the city safe, Black lawmakers know there is another way to do it.
“But the way this looks says something else,” Sen. John Horhn said. “And it plays right into the old stereotypical notions the rest of the country has about Mississippi.” “It’s essentially creating a police state right here in the city of Jackson,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Blackmon said.
Jackson residents fear this new bill, given the reputation of the Mississippi Capitol Police. Arkela Lewis, the mother of a young Black man killed by Mississippi’s Capitol Police, says it terrifies her. “It also angers me,” Lewis said, according to Newsone. Of the four shootings, one victim was a father of two, and another was a mother—injured while lying in bed.
Of course, supporters of the bill, like Republican Sen. Brice Wiggins, claim this has nothing to do with race. “This is not about race. This has truly been about helping the citizens of Jackson in a time of need.”