Do your jobs as citizens and vote

Published 7:58 pm Saturday, January 21, 2017

We, the members of the Vicksburg Branch NAACP are facing one of our most disheartening moments for the African American race here in Vicksburg.
We knew the city administration and Vicksburg Police Department were targeting the African American community when it came to traffic citations but we were not able to prove it until now.
This all started during the Lawrence Leyens’ administration and has continued through the last two different administrations. Now, finally we have the statistics to prove the disparity when it comes to traffic citations.
Through a public records request, the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP received police department citation numbers for the year 2015 totaling 9702 citations.
The statistics read: 14 unknown, 2,898 whites, 6,790 blacks; 808 citations per month average, 70 percent issued to blacks and 30 percent issued to whites.
The statistics show an overwhelming targeting of African Americans by the Vicksburg Police Department with the administration’s blessing.
Please remember the city of Vicksburg is the only city or town in Warren County, making the city’s population by race irrelevant for justification (county population: 50 white and 46 percent black).
These statistics are disturbing because of the failure of an all black Board of Mayor and Aldermen to measure up or produce a desired result that does not penalize the very residents that put them in office.
We have had two majority black administrations that have chosen to keep the status quo (targeting the black community with citations for revenue) rather than make right the wrong.
The numbers don’t lie. There is no difference in what’s going on here than what happen in Ferguson, Missouri, except their administration is majority white in a predominately black populated town.
We received this data in October 2016. We notified the city’s aldermen of the citation data then.
The mayor and police chief were aware of the complaints and out-cry in the month of July before the “Black Lives Matter Rally” down town.
Each elected official (Board of Mayor and Aldermen) was asked separately to support and guide the Vicksburg Police Department in guidelines to address the complaints of excessive citation and the targeting of the African American community in Vicksburg.
We asked the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to respond before the new year of 2017. They have not responded and during discussions before hand, each member of the administration kept with the same theme “I’m not going to tell the police not to do their job.”
Such a statement is unacceptable and an insult to the black community because their jobs are political and requires them to lead and direct the police department directly and indirectly.
We, the Vicksburg Branch NAACP ask the citizens of Vicksburg who have received unnecessary citations or know someone who has receive a tail light out, rolling stop, seatbelt, parking on the wrong side of the street, and speeding within 10 mph of the speed limit citation to let the administration know through the election process where you stand on the matter.
You don’t have to say anything, just do your job as citizens and vote.

John Shorter is president of the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP.

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