Mississippi House proposes to change capital city’s court system


Ken Lund | Creative Commons

The controversial Mississippi House Bill 1020 established a new court system for Jackson.

The Mississippi House approved a new court system in the state’s capital city Jackson in which all judges and prosecutors of the majority Black city will be appointed by the all white Republican state officials. 

The bill was passed through the Mississippi House, despite opposition from Black and Democratic legislators. In order for it to be passed into law, the bill would have to go through the Senate and the governor.

According to the U.S. Census, Jackson’s Black population comprises almost 83% of the city’s total population, making it a city with one of the largest Black populations per capita in the country. 

The new courts and police patrols will serve neighborhoods that host the majority of Jackson’s white population. The majority Black neighborhoods would be more skirted, according to The New York Times.

If the bill is passed by the governor, the white Mississippi Supreme Court chief justice will be appointed Jackson’s judges and clerk. Prosecutors will be appointed by the white attorney general. 

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Jackson’s mayor, did not hold back in his criticism of the new bill.

Some of the other legislators, I was surprised that they came half-dressed, because they forgot to wear their hoods,” Lumumba told The New York Times.

According to CNBC, Lumumba reportedly said that the new bill reminds him of the South African apartheid. 

Mississippi has a long history with racism and race-based segregation since before the Civil War. Black residents of Jackson experience poverty at three times the rate of white residents, according to Mississippi Free Press

Republican Rep. Trey Lamar, who wrote the bill, claims that the bill has no racist bias and the main goal is to reduce crime.

On Thursday, the Senate passed an amended version of the bill that removed the proposed new court system and would appoint five new temporary judges alongside the four elected judges.