NAACP clashes with Moss Point administration

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County NAACP leaders are not happy with some elected officials in Moss Point. Now, chapter president Curley Clark wants major changes. But others in the city say Clark is making false accusations.

"In our opinion, this mayor and administration is not providing the level of service that they should be," said Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark.  "And they should be replaced."

Clark said the organization is going public to make sure that Moss Point Mayor Bishop and the Board of Aldermen, except Shorty Middleton (Ward 4), aren't reelected in May. They recently issued a vote of no confidence in the current administration.

"The citizens of Moss Point realize that now is their time to have a voice. And they can choose the next administration that's going ot represent them for the next four years," Clark said.  "I feel like this current mayor and board oftentimes have put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the citizens."

NAACP member W. M. Williams, Jr. agrees with Clark.

"[It] seems like they don't have very much respect for the citizens of Moss Point," said Williams.  "And I think that the City, the mayor and board aldermen, those positions don't belong to them. They belong to the citizens of Moss Point.  And they are supposed to serve the citizens."

Williams doesn't think the current administration should include the citizens in their proceedings.  He said he hoped a new administration would allow for more community involvement in government decisions.

"I think the main thing the leadership of Moss Point needs is someone who is going to allow input from the citizens," he said.  "Somebody who will get to know all the religious leaders, business leaders, civic leaders, and get them involved. You need their input, you need their help."

Clark said much of the trouble comes from citizens' complaints of police brutality in Moss Point that he says haven't been taken seriously by Police Chief Sheila Smallman, the mayor, or the board of aldermen.  Several citizens have filed complaints with the NAACP about police brutality and misconduct while making arrests or responding to calls.

John William Kersey, Jr. believes he was mistreated by the police department.

"I had a break in and I called for help to come down here and I wind up getting tased in the back," he said.

The group attends board meetings monthly to voice concerns that these allegations aren't being thoroughly investigated.  Clark hopes that by voting out Mayor Xavier Bishop and the board, he can also remove Smallman.

"We feel like the city is less safe than it was prior to the administration, and we can't see any efforts being made to make it more safe, "Clark said.  "And unfortunately the police department is more of the problem than the solution."

Both Mayor Bishop and Chief Smallman said all the police brutality accusations have been taken seriously; they just haven't' been true.  Mayor Bishop said every citizen complaint in the City of Moss Point is investigated internally, including those against the police department.

"The investigations have been thorough, they have been complete," said Clark.  "Unfortunately, Mr. Clark and others sometimes feel that if the results aren't in their favor, it's not an adequate investigation."

"He [Clark] needs to look up the meaning of the word 'police brutality.' We have no brutality up under my administration," Smallman said.  "He has not one time picked up the phone or even come into the department and ask me about any specific case."

Bishop says this latest NAACP statement frustrates him.

"The NAACP is an organization with a long history that has done great things for many people all throughout the country," he said.  "And it's unfortunate that the local chapter under Mr. Clark's leadership has resulted in little more than becoming ambulance chasers."

Smallman is also frustrated with Clark's statement.

"I'm tired of Curley Clark misleading the citizens of Moss Point as well as of Jackson County," she said.

Clark and the Jackson County NAACP will be spreading their message until the May elections.  Bishop is unsure whether he will seek the office of Mayor again.

"I think it's unfortunate that they've chosen unseating me and the board as a viable action," Bishop said.  "They may be wasting their time if I choose not to run."