In the name of combating crime in Mississippi’s state capital, the recent passage of an amended House Bill 1020, to create a separate and unelected court system within the city, recently passed a Senate committee, after removing language that the state would appoint non-elected judges there while adding a provision to expand the jurisdiction of Capitol Police to the entire city of Jackson.
The amended bill would also increase the current number of judges in the Hinds County Court system to nine, by a designated date in 2026, and the Jackson Police Department would have to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state’s Department of Public Safety—the language of which has yet to be determined as of Final Call press time. The bill passed the Senate committee on Feb. 23
“I think we made some progress. At the end of the day, we have a crime problem in Jackson. We all know that, and this, hopefully, will provide an avenue by which we could work with the district attorney, judges,” State Senator Sollie Norwood (D-District 28) said of the ongoing fight to challenge more of the bill’s language during an interview with News 12 WJTV, a local CBS affiliate.
Local leaders argue that old ways die hard and that it is impossible to rule out the impact of racism in a bill sponsored by state officials from outside of Hinds County, which effectively sidelines the Jackson Police Department in a city currently accountable to an 85 percent Black majority. Upon the governor’s signature, White conservatives will control the apparatus of law enforcement within a Black and heavily Democrat city.
A press statement e-mailed to The Final Call from the office of Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba contends that HB 1020, as originally presented, constitutes a power grab, thereby disenfranchising voters in Hinds County and the overwhelmingly Black-majority city of Jackson.
“The recent amendment to HB1020 still exists as an attack against Black leadership. It is an effort to strip one of the largest Black communities in the nation of its voting rights, pick its leadership and deny the right to vote. This bill would make Mississippi a model for red states with blue capital cities. At its core, this bill is about lawmakers giving themselves the ability to outmaneuver the federal government. So, by policy or through actually preventing people to vote, it still reflects the poorest version of Mississippi,” Mayor Lumumba said.
“Lastly, the portion of the bill that suggests that the City of Jackson sign an MOU (memorandum of understanding) in ‘agreement’ with the CCID (Capitol Complex Improvement District) merely suggests legislators realize this bill is fraught with constitutional issues. Therefore, they want it cloaked as an agreement between the city and the state—as opposed to what it really is—a seizure of power over our City,” the mayor’s statement continued.
Student Minister Dr. Abram Muhammad, of Jackson’s Muhammad Mosque No. 78, who also serves as the Nation of Islam’s Mississippi State Representative, told The Final Call that division among Black leadership has allowed injustice and corruption to creep into state politics, which ultimately undermines progress within a city that has an overwhelmingly Black majority.
“Mayors in the past, to include this mayor, have gone to the state legislature and asked them for funding to help them raise the salary for police, to attract more applicants to come in, so that we can do a more tighter screening, (and) asked for monies to help with other initiatives that would help reduce the crime in the City of Jackson. Each and every time, those mayors, including this one, were told no!” Student Minister Muhammad said.
Explaining how taxes could be put to better use by augmenting the Jackson Police Department with state-of-the-art surveillance technology, such as more cameras and shot-spotters, Student Minister Muhammad said resources could then be directed toward intervention programs that could save taxpayer dollars by eliminating added layers of bureaucracy.
“The monies could have helped with the mental health problems, where some of the crime is stemming from, the homelessness, the blight, as well as augmenting the police department. Everybody knows, as Jackson goes, so goes the State of Mississippi,” he said.
Confusion, Confusion of People
The Eternal Leader of The Nation of Islam, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, said in his 1973 book, “The Fall of America,” that a fearful and divided Black community creates a burden on society and that fearing man as he ought to fear God is the basis of a people’s missteps and misdirection.
“There are many of our people—especially among yesterday’s leadership—who desire to lead the shackled slave into more secured shackles for the sake of the master and for fear of the master’s dislike of the leadership,” Messenger Muhammad wrote on page 106.
“This is found among the spiritual leaders more than among the political leaders of Black America, which makes manifest to you that the spiritual leadership fears not the God of truth and justice but fears the enemy of God (God is the author of freedom, justice and equality of man).”
Citing multiple cases of blatant injustices toward Black people throughout the state, Marquell Bridges, of Building Bridges for Community Unity and Progress, said many families with whom he is in contact—from the mother of 15-year-old Jaheim McMillan, whose son died after being shot in the head by a police officer at a Gulfport Family Dollar store, to the yet to be solved disappearance and death of 25-year-old Rasheem Carter, whose dismembered remains were found in the woods a month after being turned away from a police station in Taylorsville—said the stories are as tragic as they are endless. This includes recent allegations of torture and the shooting of Michael Jenkins, 32, by Rankin County Sherriff’s Deputies in Braxton.
“Enough is enough! Everyone is angry, as they should be. Mississippi is behind the times, they’re just starting to wake up,” Mr. Bridges said after describing how a Rankin County deputy allegedly forced his service weapon into Mr. Jenkins’ mouth and fired, severing his tongue, and shooting out teeth. The FBI is reportedly investigating the incident.
“What you’re seeing now, the few people that’s willing to step up, is two to three years’ worth of work since George Floyd, of a great awakening amongst our people. And just like with everything, Mississippi is the last one to catch on, but it’s extreme anger,” Mr. Bridges explained.
These latest developments in the state come on the heels of ongoing concerns about the conditions of its prison. In 2022 the U.S. Justice Department found horrendous, shameful constitutional violations present within Mississippi prisons. Conditions and practices at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman, violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution Justice Department declared in a report which followed a two-year-old investigation.
• failing to provide adequate mental health treatment to people with serious mental health needs;
• failing to take sufficient suicide prevention measures to protect people at risk of self-harm;
• subjecting people to prolonged isolation in solitary confinement in egregious conditions that place their physical and mental health at substantial risk of serious harm; and
• failing to protect incarcerated people from violence at the hands of other incarcerated people.
According to an April 11, 2022 article on SuperTalk FM / Mississippi Media, the state is now the world’s leader in putting people behind bars—more inmates per capita than any state or nation, including China, Russia and Iran, according to the World Population Review.
The article, written by investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell, quotes Cliff Johnson who is the director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law.
“What’s it going to take for Mississippians to realize that the mass incarceration we have carried out for decades has made us less safe, rather than safer?” asked Mr. Johnson.
The War of Armageddon Has Begun
As the Nation of Islam dispatched a delegation to Mississippi over Saviours’ Day weekend, both to witness the funeral service of Rasheem Ryelle Carter and to support his family, the National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, described the “War of Armageddon” beginning as a battle between truth versus falsehood, right against wrong, and good versus evil.
“Why must there be a War of Armageddon? Because evil is spreading far and wide. The God of Righteousness is upset! He is tired of the wickedness, the iniquity of the people, and He is tired of the wickedness of Satan. So here is what’s on His Mind, as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said during his Feb. 26 message in front of over 10,000 people in the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
“Satan knew this day was coming; he knew that when you started to rise, it would begin to produce his fall. So, the only way he can keep in power is to keep you ignorant. And in keeping you ignorant, he drops you down into a barrel of filth. All our minds are taken with filth, degenerate behavior, filthy language,” he said.
“Why must there be a War of Armageddon?” Minister Farrakhan asked again.
“Because Satan has to be exposed! Satan is no spook, Satan is no spirit. Satan are men and women, highly intelligent, knowing the truth, and using their knowledge of good to trick people who are good into doing that which is evil; and then make them think the evil that they do is alright. You need help. We need help,” the Minister said.
Final Call staff contributed to this report.