We Shall Not Be Moved calls for resignation of two Ocean Springs committee chairs
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - An Ocean Springs organization is calling for the resignation of two city committee members.
Members of the Historic Preservation Committee could be heard making inappropriate comments after a meeting.
The comments followed after a resident requested to preserve black-owned homes in the downtown area.
“How would you like for someone to say your home, five generations old, people who have grown up there, who live there and are still living there? How would you like to say your family home needs to be burned down?” asked Kim Lee, a member of We Shall Not Be Moved.
Those are the comments heard from a member and a city employee on the Historic Preservation Committee in Ocean Springs.
Members of We Shall Not Be Moved said Carlos Barbosa and Patty Gatson allegedly made the remarks in a now-deleted Facebook video.
During a meeting on September 14th, a resident proposed to expand the historic downtown, which includes a predominantly black neighborhood.
After the meeting, members of the committee can be seen huddled in the corner discussing the matter.
One member can be heard saying, “We grow this district. Now, you’re going to sit there and put under the historic district those houses that were built in the 70s and need to be burned down right now to begin with. Now you want to put them under protection. Do we really want to do that?”
“I could not believe what my ears were hearing. I was pissed. I really was upset about the situation. Our group went down to the Historic Preservation Committee to get assistance,” said Lee.
Richard Jackson, the Vice President of the Jackson County NAACP, and community members held a press conference to call for Barbosa to resign from the board.
“Not only should they step down, they should be fired,” said Jackson.
“They were mocking them, they were laughing at them. They were making inflammatory comments,” said Lee.
The journey to preserve homes and structures is highlighted in Area 4 of the Urban Renewal Plan.
Part of the plan creates the opportunity for commercial growth on Bienville Road and Government Street. Other areas on the design include Porter Avenue, East of Highway 90 up to Highway 57, Franklin Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
“Not only do we not agree with his new comprehensive plan, but we don’t want to Urban Renewal Plan at all. Now you are going to come in and not only put them out, but you don’t even have the decency enough to let them know you have a plan to take their homes from them,” said Jackson.
Members of We Shall Not Be Moved will have remarks at the Urban Renewal Plan public forum in October.
“We cannot trust them to do what’s right by these citizens. Therefore, we are going to fight till we don’t have to fight anymore,” said Lee.
Neither Gatson nor Barbosa have commented to WLOX on the matter.
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