White supremacy is in full effect in Mississippi politics.
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On Tuesday, the majority white Mississippi House voted on a bill that would create a separate court system to judge and police the residents of Jackson, the Blackest city in America. If House Bill 1020 becomes law, appointments would only be handled by white state officials.
According to Mississippi Today, despite local voters electing judges and prosecutors, the white chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court would appoint two judges to oversee a new district within the city. The white state attorney general would then appoint four prosecutors, a court clerk, and four public defenders for the new district. The white state public safety commissioner would then oversee an expanded Capitol Police force, run currently by a white chief.
House Bill 1020 would also double the funding for the district to $20 million to help increase the size of the Capitol police force in the state.
The bill, which passed 76-38 after five hours of debate, was vehemently opposed by all but one lawmaker representing the city of Jackson, Rep. Shanda Yates, a white independent.
“Only in Mississippi would we have a bill like this … where we say solving the problem requires removing the vote from Black people,” Rep. Ed Blackmon said during the debate.
“This is just like the 1890 Constitution all over again. We are doing exactly what they said they were doing back then: ‘Helping those people because they can’t govern themselves.’”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has been critical of the bill since it was first introduced last month, saying the bill “reminds [him] of apartheid.”
Jackson’s mayor wasn’t the only city official who opposed the bill.
According to the Clarion Ledger, the Jackson City Council called a special meeting last weekend to vote on a resolution opposing the bill, but to no avail.
Other critics of the bill say residents of Jackson nor elected officials asked for a backdoor court.
“I have not heard that anyone from the City of Jackson, Mississippi who is an elected official is in favor of this,” said Blackmon. “This is a land grab, has nothing to do with crime.”
Jackson, Mississippi is more than 80% percent Black, arguably the Blackest city percentage-wise in the United States.
Sadly, 33.8% of the state’s Black population lives below the poverty line.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the union; 18.8% of its residents live at or below the poverty line. The state also boasts the highest child poverty rate, with 27.9% of its under-18 population meeting federal poverty guidelines.
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