In an article published yesterday (Feb. 7), Mississippi Today revealed that a white supermajority member of the Mississippi House voted “to create a separate court system and an expanded police force” in Jackson. The city is known for having a large population of Black residents. The measure would reportedly see only white state officials governing that court.
The outlet said the proposal is called House Bill 1020, and if passed into law, the Mississippi Supreme Court would be run by a white chief justice, a white state attorney general and a white state public safety commissioner. They would be in charge of the Capitol Police force in the city with a majority-Black presence. According to the article, 80 percent of Jackson’s citizens are African American, which is higher than any major city in the United States. “Mississippi’s Legislature is thoroughly controlled by white Republicans, who have redrawn districts over the past 30 years to ensure they can pass any bill without a single Democratic vote,” the report added.
Rep. Edward Blackmon believes the vote is a setup. “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,’” the politician said during the voting procedure. Republican Rep. Trey Lamar disagreed: “This bill is designed to make our capital city of Jackson, Mississippi, a safer place.” He added that House Bill 1020 was created to “help not hinder the [Hinds County] court system.”
Mississippi has a history of Black residents suffering disproportionately from the legal system in comparison to other races — so much so that for years, JAY-Z has been using his platform to sue and expose the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The mogul plans to spread light on the injustices within the prison system in an upcoming docuseries approved by A&E. “In 2020, Roc Nation and Team Roc launched a fight to put a stop to the literal death sentences imposed on inmates through the inhumane, violent and torturous conditions created by Parchman prison officials,” a statement released by the label last year read in part. His lawsuits against the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Parchman have since been dropped after conditions reportedly improved.