GOP Lawmakers Are Pushing 'Takeover' Of Jackson, Activists Say

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Activists in Jackson, Mississippi, one of America's Blackest big cities, believe GOP lawmakers are pushing a "takeover" of the capital city and disenfranchising local voters in the process.

As volunteers distributed bottled water last week outside of New Jerusalem Church in Jackson, a predominately Black city continuing to struggle from its failing water system, activists, pastors, and organizers addressed the threat that they believe the state legislature is imposing on the community, CNN reports.

Local activist Danyelle Holmes emphasized that Republican state lawmakers are proposing “a takeover of the city of Jackson and disenfranchising local voters.”

“They’re banking on us to be quiet. They’re banking on us to back down,” Holmes said as she wore a t-shirt reading "JACKSON VS. EVERYBODY."

The remarks come after the Mississippi House passed a criminal justice bill earlier this month that would create a new, separate court system in Jackson where judges and prosecutors would be appointed by state government officials rather than by local elections. The legislation would also expand the Capitol Police, a state government-controlled law enforcement organization that has been criticized for its use of force and shootings by officers.

“It is taking us back in time and it puts us on the wrong side of history,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said in a statement. “It’s colonization, it’s apartheid, it’s the worst of what Mississippi can be.”

Supporters of the bill argue that it will address court backlog and reduce violence that has spiked in the city.

“The bill is totally racially neutral,” Rep. Trey Lamar, the bill's sponsor, told CNN earlier this month. “I hate that the other side used race as much as they did.”

Cliff Johnson, a University of Mississippi law professor and the director of the university’s MacArthur Justice Center, said the House bill was “the most radical piece of legislation I’ve seen in 30 years of practicing law in Mississippi.”

“You’d have a police department and judges and prosecutors who aren’t accountable to local voters, all of whom are appointed by White officials in a city that’s 82% Black,” Johnson said.

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