News ID: 112831
Publish Date : 26 February 2023 - 21:42

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Random gunfire, repeated break-ins and a decaying city water system are constant challenges at Mom’s Dream Kitchen, the soul food restaurant Timothy Norris’ mother opened 35 years ago in Mississippi’s capital.
“I have some cousins that live in Ohio,” said Norris, who has spent most of his 54 years in Jackson and now owns the restaurant. “They came last year. They hadn’t been here in 22 years. They were completely shocked at Jackson.”
Citing rising crime, Mississippi’s Republican-controlled House recently passed a bill that would expand areas of Jackson patrolled by a state-run Capitol Police force and create a new court system with appointed rather than elected judges. Both would give white state government officials more power over Jackson, which has the highest percentage of Black residents of any major U.S. city.
The state Senate has also passed a bill to establish a regional governing board for Jackson’s long-troubled water system, with most members appointed by state officials. The system nearly collapsed last year and is now under control of a federally-appointed manager.
The proposals for state control have angered Jackson residents who don’t want their voices diminished in local government, and are the latest example of the long-running tensions between the Republican-run state government and the Democratic-run capital city.
“It’s really a stripping of power, and it’s happening in a predominantly Black city that has predominantly Black leadership,” said Sonya Williams-Barnes, a Democratic former state lawmaker who is now Mississippi policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund. “You don’t see this going on in other areas of the state where they’re run by majority white people.”
Norris notes state government officials have long been unwilling to help Jackson with the water system and other problems.
“We had to go through all this by ourselves. Solo,” he said. “Now, all of the sudden you want to come and take it and say, ‘OK, well, we’re going to take over.’ You know, treating us like kids. We’re not kids.”
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the proposal for courts with appointed judges reeks of apartheid and “plantation politics.”
“If we allow this type of legislation to stand in Jackson, Mississippi, it’s a matter of time before it will hit New Orleans, it’s a matter of time before it hits Detroit, or wherever we find our people,” Lumumba said.
The sponsor of the expanded police and court bill, Republican Rep. Trey Lamar, from a rural town more than 170 miles (275 kilometers) north of Jackson, said it’s aimed at making Mississippi’s capital safer and at reducing a backlog in the judicial system.

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