Reeves to NAACP President: ‘Families in Jackson are begging for... law and order’

FILE - Republican Gov. Tate Reeves outlines his priorities during his State of the State...
FILE - Republican Gov. Tate Reeves outlines his priorities during his State of the State address on the steps of the state Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 4:31 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gov. Tate Reeves says he’s not going to stand by and watch as families in Jackson are “begging for help” in fighting crime.

That was the response the governor made on Monday afternoon to NAACP President Derrick Johnson, just days after the civil rights advocacy group filed suit against the state for enacting House Bill 1020.

“Governor Reeves cannot be allowed to treat the residents of the city of Jackson like second-class citizens,” Johnson said in a social media post on August 22. “So, we’re suing him.”

Reeves fired back at Johnson, saying the NAACP leader, “Democratic politicians and the ‘defund the police’ activists may be willing to stand by and do nothing. I am not.”

“Families in Jackson are begging for help restoring law and order to a city that desperately needs it. so, we’re going to do everything we can to help them.”

NAACP’s Office of General Counsel and Covington & Burling LLP filed suit against Reeves on Saturday, a day after he signed H.B. 1020.

The controversial bill allows the primary jurisdiction of the Capitol Complex Improvement District (Capitol Police) across Jackson, meaning the Jackson Police Department would have secondary jurisdiction.

H.B. 1020 also provides additional funding to the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office to hire two additional assistant prosecutors and a criminal investigator.

Said Johnson, “As our country continues to face the reality and consequences of our broken law enforcement and criminal justice systems, passing legislation to increase policing, install undemocratically appointed judges and infringe on the constitutional right to protest is simultaneously irresponsible and dangerous.”

Meanwhile, three Jackson residents have filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court asking that court to block the implementation of the law.

Those residents are Ann Saunders, Sabreen Sharrieff and Dorothy Triplett. The three say that the bill’s “requirement that the chief justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court appoint four judges to the Hinds County to the Hinds County Circuit Court runs afoul of the state constitution’s requirement that circuit judges... ‘shall be elected.’”

Defendants in the case include Mississippi Chief Justice Michael Randolph, Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace and Greg Snowden, director of the Administrative Office of Courts.

Under H.B. 1020, additional temporary judges would be appointed to hear criminal and civil cases related to incidents that occur within the CCID, while two others would hear only criminal cases.

“State lawmakers have said that this takeover of our judicial system is for our own good, for our own safety, and that is deeply offensive to me,” Saunders said in a press statement. “African Americans in Mississippi died so that we could vote. How does weakening the right to self-governance make us safer? Safety comes from communities having resources they need to develop safeguards they know will be appropriate and effective.”

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