Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NAACP files lawsuit after Mississippi increases control of law enforcement in Jackson


The NAACP sued Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves after he signed legislation that allows state officials to have more control over law enforcement in Jackson, including an expansion of the Capitol Police, which killed four people last year. was shot without any public explanation.

trialWhich was e-filed Friday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, accused Reeves and other state officials of unfairly segregating Jackson, a predominantly black city battling violent crime and an overburdened court system. charged to.

The laws Reeves signed on Friday create a temporary court system outside the city’s control run by appointed judges and prosecutors, who will handle cases brought by the Capitol Police, a once-obscure agency that has been renamed in the capital. The power to patrol has been given.

NAACP officials said these moves deprive Jackson residents of their voting power and suppress their voice in how justice is administered in the city, bypassing Mississippi’s existing system, in which voters choose their judges and their mayors. elect the police, who appoint their police chiefs.

He cited Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba as an example. 2020 order Changing the Jackson Police Department’s use-of-force policy, which bans chokeholds, mandates de-escalation techniques and requires officers to intervene if they witness another office using unnecessary force. Capitol Police, which has not publicly updated its use of force policy since 2006It is part of the State Department of Public Safety and is not subject to city policies.

NAACP lawyers argued that the two new state laws are racially discriminatory because they focus only on Jackson. The legislation creates a new court system in a part of the city known as the Capitol Complex Improvement District. New justices would be appointed by the white Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; New prosecutors would be appointed by White’s state attorney general; And the Capitol Police is run by a white chief, who answers to a white commissioner of public safety, who answers to a white governor.

The lawsuit states that the new laws “fundamentally and unconstitutionally limit the ability of Jackson’s singled-out, majority-black residents to live in their city as full citizens with full rights.”

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP and longtime Jackson resident, said in an interview that the lawsuit is part of a broader effort to push back against years of state strangling Jackson’s liberties. Last year, the civil rights organization accused the state of depriving Jackson of funding needed to upgrade its creaking water system. a state environmental officer refused to do so,

Johnson said that instead of creating a new court system and bringing in a state police agency, Mississippi should add more elected judges to represent Jackson and give Jackson money to hire more city police officers. One of the new laws increases the chances of Jackson getting an additional elected judge — if caseload data shows a need.

“Our goal is to ensure that the citizens of Jackson are not treated like second-class citizens, that the city is not singled out as pariah, and that citizens can be assured that they have a safe, Have clean drinking water, can elect the candidate of their choice, and have a law enforcement agency that is not seeking endorsement,” Johnson, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in an interview. “That’s how democracy works.”

The lawsuit alleges that the new laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. It also targets a provision that gives the Capitol Police broad powers over approval of events held on or next to state government property. NAACP lawyers said the provision could stifle people’s right to protest or organize other First Amendment-protected activities, including expressing their disapproval of the new court and police agency.

The lawsuit also names Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Randolph, Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindall and Mississippi Capitol Police Chief Bo Luckey as defendants. The NAACP said it filed the lawsuit on behalf of its Mississippi and Jackson chapters, Jackson residents and local civil rights activists. The organizations said they want the state to be restrained from making the mentioned changes in the laws.

Reeves said in a statement that the legislation seeks to help a city suffering from “an unprecedented epidemic of crime”. a kill rate This has made Jackson “one of the most dangerous places in the world”. Reeves said the allegations of racism driven by “liberal activists” and the “national media” were false.

Reeves pushed back against Jackson’s portrayal of the state taking away power from the people. The Capitol Police will help the city police fight crime, he said. He said the new court’s decisions could be reviewed by elected judges. Reeves said the law improves transparency by requiring the Department of Public Safety to hold four town hall meetings a year and by requiring Capitol Police officers to wear body cameras.

Reeves said, “There is a clear consensus that more law enforcement boots are needed on the ground in Jackson, especially considering that the city’s police department has been shorted by at least a hundred officers.”

The other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Tindall has previously defended the work of the Capitol Police and pledged to increase the agency’s transparency.

bracy harris Contribution,