‘Jackson vs. Everyone’: Brawl over H.B. 1020 enters national arena

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 2:56 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The fight over one of the most controversial Mississippi House bills of the session has now reached the national spotlight.

On Monday, an article regarding the showdown over H.B. 1020 sat on CNN’s homepage. Above the article, a quote that read, “It’s the worst of what Mississippi can be.”

The article, A proposed ‘takeover’ has sparked a battle for power in one of America’s Blackest big cities, delves into the bill, mostly centering on those opposed to its potential enactment.

An opinion article regarding the bill was also posted on The Daily Beast’s website on Monday with the headline being, Jim Crow Is Resurrected in Mississippi.

House Bill 1020, as it was originally written, would carve out nearly one-fourth of the capital city and establish a new court system with unelected judges and prosecutors for the crimes that take place in what’s known as the Capitol Complex Improvement District.

After being modified last week, the Senate Judiciary A Committee’s version of H.B. 1020 would not cause the Capital Complex Improvement District, or CCID, to expand. However, the Capitol Police’s jurisdiction would expand to include the entire city.

Possibly its most controversial feature had been gutted by the Senate committee. In their version, there would be no separate judicial district in Jackson. But the bill would ensure funding of temporary special judges through 2026.

These changes still have to clear the full Senate. If it does clear that hurdle, H.B. 1020 is expected to go to a conference committee where lawmakers from both chambers will work out a compromise between the two versions.

Even with the changes, the bill has caused an outcry among the leadership in Jackson, most notably from Mayor Chowke Antar Lumumba, who compared it to apartheid.

In a statement released Friday, he said a provision of the bill that “suggests” the city and Department of Public Safety sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) spelling out the expectations of both parties is a sign lawmakers know 1020 is “fraught with constitutional issues.”

“They want it cloaked as an agreement between the city and the state - as opposed to what it really is - a seizure of power over our city,” Lumumba said.

Representative Bennie Thompson has also discussed the bill with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Supporters of 1020, though, say the expanded Capitol Police jurisdiction is needed to help quell the surge of violence in a city whose homicide rate ranks highest in the United States among major cities.

Jackson ended 2022 with 133 homicides, a 13 percent drop from the year before, when 153 people lost their lives to violence, according to 3 On Your Side figures.

When asked, seven members of the Jackson delegation opposed to H.B. 1020 did not have a singular plan to address the crime in Jackson.

Instead, they just want the system that currently exists to receive more funding. This includes more support for the Jackson Police Department.

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