From Dred Scott to Dreadful
For the most part, I think members of the white community thought that some were getting what they deserved; especially when it came to my arrest and the arrest of Mayor Miriam R. Holder. Neither of us were liked in the community because people were not looking for the truth; they wanted to take sides. Many felt Mayor Holder was attacking the city clerk and how dare she attack a good old, white Southern woman and they especially had ill feelings towards me for the things I said and posted in the blog. How dare I attempt to bring accountability and transparency to the City of Lumberton; this is the way we've always done it and we don't need some black, know it all to try and show us any differently. During the vociferious era of Hobson, there were those in the black community that were demanding change while there were hoards of white people running to the board meeting to thank Hobson for doing such a great job. I recall that at some point, I was labeled a racist and a sell out. Now how in the Hattiesburg did I manage to piss off the black and white communities. I guess I somehow achieved the Don Lemon effect. As I look back, I am thankful that I stood my ground, despite the attack from seemingly every corner of the city. I refused to let this dark time in Lumberton's history to taint me. I think back of those that will inbox you and call you friend but when you under attack, they never came to my defense. They were more than willing to set out and get a police officer to defy his commanding officer in an attempt to free their true friend but will never offer any visible support to you. But I am thankful of those that were and still are in my corner. The blog was not created for people to take sides; it was created to expose the corruption that is housed at city hall; to offer transparency and to make out elected officials accountable for the promises they made during their campaign. I appreciate support and encouragement, but if I'm wrong, I appreciate those that have the ability to tactfully tell me I am wrong because the only agenda I have is to reveal the truth and that does not warrant going to jail. One thing that kept me going and continues to keep me is the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.
"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Over the last few weeks, I have been researching the number of police officers that worked in Lumberton. As you know, the board butchered the Lumberton Police Department for budgetary reasons. However, they didn't make any cuts in the other departments but there was the claim that Lumberton's Police Department has worked before with three officers and that we can't continue to allow a department to use half of our budget. Well, after researching the matter as far back as 1988, I have not been able to find a time when we had three officers patrolling the City of Lumberton. From my research, it seems that from 1988-2007, Lumberton's Police Department has been using 50-55% of the city's budget. Contrary to what Alderman Tommy Dukes said, the city is a lot different now than it was 25 years ago. The most obvious is the lack of industry. Every month, the board claims they're making decisions because that's what other cities are doing (Purvis, Poplarville, Wiggins, Columbia). That was one of the main reasons why they outsourced our garbage collection; because other cities were doing it. Well, if you're going to be like other cities, be completely like them. How about getting us a Wal-mart like Columbia and Wiggins. How about getting approving the sale of beer and wine like Poplarville. How about getting some million dollar investments in our Industrial Park like Purvis. Since you want to be like other cities. As I stated, I have yet to find a time when there were only three officers patrolling Lumberton. As a matter of fact, during 2000-2007, there were five to six officers on the payroll and that's not counting the years when we had a Chief of Police and an Assistant Chief of Police; a position that wasn't eliminated until Maurice Hammond took over the police department. Another problem I found was the allocation of funds for the police department. As I looked through the records, I see the money spent in support of the police department but there's nothing showing the money they collected. For some reason, fines collected by the police department are deposited into the general fund. Why are they not put into a separate account. This year alone, Betty Speights, court clerk, has collected more than enough delinquent fine payments to cover her salary as a full time clerk; yet, she's the only clerk to have her hours cut in half. Yet, there are three clerks in the main office because the board feels there is enough money in the WSOM account, from constantly raising water/sewer rates, to justify their positions and the payment of comp time. In other words, we can do what we want in the city clerk's and public works departments because we can always raise the water/sewer rates if there's a shortage; therefore, we don't need to cut any jobs in those departments. In the meantime, the board is not working with a real budget and they want everyone to think the police department is eating up the budget when in fact, the budget is out of whack because everything and I mean everything, including WSOM charges, are being paid from the general fund. But instead of admitting the error and working to fix it, the board and the city clerk are making it a point to look for means of mass distraction; hoping no one realizes what's really going on. Oh yeah, that mess Merlene is spreading about bugging the board room and trying to make sure executive session is private will be addressed in tomorrow's blog. Unlike Merlene, I know the laws relating to a code charter municipality.
Now that I went on a tirade, let me get back on point. The original intent of today's post was to address the matters surrounding Ferguson, MO and the similarities to Lumberton, MS. The other day, Melissa Harris-Perry provided a chilling retrospective of the acceptance of murder of unarmed black men in America. The following is text of the story that aired on MSNBC. In the past decade alone:
The deaths of black men in America.
January 24, 2004. Timothy Stansbury. Brooklyn, New York. Unarmed.
November 25, 2006. Sean Bell. Queens, New York. Unarmed.
January 1, 2009. Oscar Grant. Oakland, California. Unarmed.
January 29, 2010. Aaron Campbell. Portland, Oregon. Unarmed.
July 18, 2011. Alonzo Ashley. Denver, Colorado. Unarmed.
March 7, 2012. Wendell Allen. New Orleans, Louisiana. Unarmed.
September 14, 2013. Jonathan Ferrell. Charlotte, North Carolina. Unarmed.
July 17, 2014. Eric Garner, Staten Island, New York. Unarmed.
August 9, 2014. Michael Brown. Ferguson, Missouri. Unarmed.
In the past decade alone, these men and hundreds of others have lost their lives to police. Local police report to the FBI killing at least 400 people a year. From 2006 to 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country. Which brings us back to Ferguson, Missouri, where according to a report in The Daily Beast, in 2009 police officers charged a man for property damage because he bled on their uniforms while they arrested him–and allegedly beat him bloody.
Ferguson, Missouri, where it took six days to release the name of the officer who shot an unarmed teenager to death. Ferguson, Missouri, where police released images of someone who might be Michael Brown involved in a store robbery–and then hours later, said the robbery had nothing to do with why Michael Brown was stopped by the police officer who killed him.Ferguson is just outside St. Louis, Missouri–the place where, as historian Blair Kelley reminded us this week in The Root, Dred Scott sued for his freedom, on the grounds that he and his wife had for years lived in a free state. His case eventually went to the Supreme Court. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney declared that Scott had no right to sue because as a black man he was never intended to be an American. Speaking of the clause in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” Taney wrote:
“It is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration.”Taney went on to say that black men “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Apparently, not much has changed since 1857. So much for a post-racial America. In the words of Don Lemon,
"This is about people not realizing that there is a double standard that people live in a different world, and, quite frankly, for white people to realize that black people, especially black men, are treated differently. It is a double standard. Until people realize that, nothing is going to change. Nothing is going to happen."