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Jackson residents are preparing for one more last-ditch effort to stop a new rogue court led by a state-appointed judge and prosecutors, instead of elected officials. 

According to AP, a federal judge is set to hear arguments Dec. 19 over the Capitol Complex Improvement District Court, which is set to be created Jan. 1. 

Jackson residents are asking the federal judge to block the creation of the rogue court, which would act similar to a municipal court that handles misdemeanor cases. It’s worth noting that judges and prosecutors in Mississippi are normally appointed by local elected officials. In September, Mississippi’s Supreme Court struck down part of the law that would have allowed appointed judges to handle felony cases and civil lawsuits.

All appointments to the new court would be handled by white state officials. Jackson, Mississippi is more than 80% percent Black, arguably the Blackest city percentage-wise in the United States. Sadly, 33.8% of the state’s Black population lives below the poverty line.

Jackson residents as well as Black lawmakers in Mississippi have condemned the new court saying it would strip away voting rights and disenfranchise Black people in Jackson.

“It’s really a stripping of power, and it’s happening in a predominantly Black city that has predominantly Black leadership,” Sonya Williams-Barnes, a Democratic former state lawmaker who is now Mississippi policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, told AP. “You don’t see this going on in other areas of the state where they’re run by majority white people.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has been critical of the bill since it was first introduced last month, comparing the bill to apartheid, calling it “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 told AP.

The Justice Department also chimed in on the new court, saying it could perpetuate Mississippi’s racist history of trying to suppress Black political power. 

“Just like many past efforts to undermine Black political power, (the law) singles out the majority-Black City of Jackson for loss of local control of its judicial system and ability to self-govern and enforce its own municipal laws,” wrote Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division, and Todd Gee, the U.S. attorney for south Mississippi, in a Dec. 5 federal court filing.

But Mississippi Republicans pushed back, saying the CCID court is about public safety, not suppression. 

“The Legislature established the CCID Court to address Jackson’s clearly-recognized, ongoing public safety and criminal-justice emergencies,” said Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and Rex Shannon, a special assistant state attorney general. “Those emergencies gravely affect not just those living in Jackson, but all Mississippians.”


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