The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and other elected officials for two controversial new laws, House Bill 1020 and Senate Bill 2343.
On April 21, Gov. Reeves signed the new legislation, which expands law enforcement in the city of Jackson and enforces major changes to its judicial system.
HB 1020 creates a separate judicial court system called the Capitol Complex Improvement District and expands the CCID’s jurisdiction to the city of Jackson. Judges in the district will be appointed by the chief justice of the majority white Mississippi Supreme Court instead of elected by the majority Black city of Jackson voters.
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson condemned the Mississippi legislature and Gov. Tate Reeves for their neglect toward the Black citizens of Jackson.
“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,” Johnson said in a statement.
SB 2343 will expand the state-controlled Capitol Police jurisdiction to a much larger portion of Jackson. The legislation’s intent is to decrease the growing crime rate in the city.
“This legislation won’t save the entire problem, but if we can stop one shooting, if we can respond to one more 911 call—then we’re one step closer to a better Jackson,” Reeves said on April 21.
According to the lawsuit, the expansion of the Capitol Police’s jurisdiction brings the entirety of the predominantly Black city of Jackson under their control. The lawsuit claims that these laws violate the fourteenth amendment and suppress Black residents’ ability to exercise their first amendment rights.
The two laws “represent a disturbing regression, rolling back decades of progress by stripping Jackson residents of their fundamental right to democratically elect leaders, undermining the authority of those they have elected, and severely restricting their first amendment right to freedom of speech,” former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Meghan Curry, UM NAACP chapter president and sophomore public health major, thinks the NAACP made the right decision to file a lawsuit against Mississippi lawmakers.
“I think it’s devastating that we’re witnessing the resurgence of Jim Crow,” Curry said. “What the state is trying to do is simply unconstitutional, and the motive behind doing so is based on a racist superiority complex that each of our lawmakers have.”
Curry expressed that there are other problems besides crime, such as poverty and lack of job opportunities for residents, that lawmakers should be actively trying to solve. She also hopes that all Mississippians, not just Jackson residents, will stand up against this issue.
“I do believe in coalition and am confident that not only will the residents of Jackson stand up against our lawmakers, but the entire state will as well,” Curry said.