Chokwe Antar Lumumba likely claimed the Jackson mayor’s seat, winning the Democratic primary by a landslide against other candidates, drawing more than twice the votes as the second-place candidate. Photo by Imani Khayyam.
JACKSON— “Victory is mine. Victory is mine. Victory today is mine,” attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba, 33, sang as he grabbed the microphone last night and led a packed room at the King Edward Hotel in singing the gospel hymn, “Victory is Mine,” by Dorothy Norwood.
“I say that because it is not about me. I say that because you defied conventional wisdom today,” Lumumba boomed to his crowd of supporters just after 10 p.m. after leading the field of 10 candidates throughout the evening. “… Conventional wisdom said that Jackson could not come together, but we saw today in this election, we saw northeast Jackson agree with south Jackson, (and) southwest Jackson agree with northwest Jackson,” Lumumba said.
Lumumba indeed delivered a resounding victory, taking 55.11 percent of the vote and his next closest challenger, state Sen. John Horhn, following with 21.21 percent. That win means the young attorney is likely to be the next mayor, even though he still has to defeat Republican nominee Jason Wells in the June 6 general election, which is typically perfunctory in such an overwhelmingly Democratic city.
The presumptive mayor, supported by national progressives including Bernie Sanders devotees and Democracy for America, did not mince words when it came to the need to increase prosperity throughout the city instead of in just parts of it. “We have two options,” Lumumba told his crowd to loud cheers. “We have the option of economics by the people and for the people or economics by a few people for themselves. And so we’re making the decision that we’re going to have a solidarity economy that works for all of Jackson.”
Lumumba called out members of his father’s Taliaferro family from Michigan. (His father Chokwe Lumumba, the previous mayor who died in office in 2014, was first named Edwin Finley Taliaferro before he later changed it.)
“Today would have been the 96th birthday of my grandfather, the day his grandson wins the Democratic primary,” Lumumba said. “So what we’re going to do is broaden the ticket. We’re going to make certain that we all work together, that we identify our collective interests. We’re going to love each other.”
Lumumba made the point that everyone in the city pays when one neighborhood struggles. “We’re going to show support to south Jackson. Because we know that when the people in south Jackson aren’t treated right, the tax burden will fall on the people in north Jackson,” he said.
‘One City, One Aim’
As primary night wore on, supporters waiting at Lumumba’s watch party became increasingly adrenalized with the promise of a win as spirits dropped at most competitors’ gatherings. At approximately 9:50 p.m., the crowd began cheering, blowing colorful noisemakers like it was New Year’s Eve, and raising their fists to the sky as the candidate’s sister Rukia Lumumba led the chant, “One City, One Aim.”
Rukia Lumumba, who moved back to Jackson from New York City in time to help lead her brother’s 2017 campaign, did not need a microphone as her strong and passionate voice filled the room. “It is an honor. It is a pleasure, to stand in this room with you tonight,” she told the crowd. “But most importantly as I stand here, it is an honor and a pleasure to be the sister of this great human being. He stood up after our father passed to continue that vision. A vision that was a selfless vision. A vision to unite a city.”
Mayor Tony Yarber, who only drew 5.39 percent of the vote in his re-election bid, conceded at his subdued watch party at the Next Level nightclub. “The city will gain an advocate that will have something to say without giving a damn,” Yarber told the Jackson Free Press and WLBT while sitting next to his wife, Rosalind.
The mayor later officially conceded, offering full support to presumptive Mayor Lumumba and continuing devotion to the city. “This isn’t a loss for us … you move forward,” he said.
Both Ronnie Crudup Jr., a political newcomer who took 2.34 percent of the vote in fifth place, Crudup and his wife, Andre’a Crudup, showed a positive attitude and good vibes while watching results with their family and supporters all evening at the New Horizon Center.
However, Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham, who hosted his watch party at Eddie’s Soul Food on Bailey Avenue, left supporters standing outside waiting impatiently for him to arrive. The flustered Graham supporters did not allow the press to take any photos of them. He took 15.2 percent of the vote, coming in third.
Horhn, who came in second, posted a gracious message on his Facebook page late on primary night: “It’s been a great day, and a great competitive season. I wish to compliment each of my competitors on their respective campaigns. The dialogue has been excellent, the interaction lively and robust, and the relationships between us all respectful and productive.”
“Each of the men running in the Democratic primary are good men, each with significant skills and true passion. Going forward, let’s keep the momentum. … I look forward to the opportunity for us all to work together for the benefit of each of our supporters. Because, when we remove the part that says; “I’m for candidate X, Y or Z,” we then get to the part that says; “I’m for JACKSON.” So, let’s all be for JACKSON tomorrow morning,” Horhn added.
A ‘Miracle’ in the Primary
Conventional wisdom, and recent polls, predicted that Lumumba would take around 30 percent and then face one of two older candidates in the runoff—Horhn or Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham. But Lumumba had predicted on social media throughout the day that he would top the margin needed to escape a run-off: 50-percent plus one vote.
Turnout in the Jackson Democratic primary election was typically low but similar to recent years, with 33,839 Jacksonians casting ballots in the Democratic primary, and 34,169 Jacksonians voting in total. The much less popular Republican primary brought in 330 total votes for mayor. Jason Wells won the Republican mayoral primary election on Tuesday night with 174 total votes.
Few people—save Lumumba and his supporters—seemed to believe that a candidate winning a majority with predicted low turnout and nine candidates was possible. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann predicted low turnout in statewide municipal elections, telling reporters Tuesday morning that the Jackson Democratic primary would more than likely go to a run-off. He said it would be a “miracle” if someone managed to take home 50 percent of the vote plus one.
Lumumba pulled off more than a miracle and then some, in that case.
The Jackson City Clerk’s staff counted ballots in the basement of the Hinds County Courthouse with the assistance of the Hinds County Clerk’s office last night. Initial returns showed Lumumba out ahead of other candidates, first over 50 percent with Graham in second place, then dropping under when Horhn pulled ahead of Graham. Yarber, however, clearly was out of the running even with a third of precincts’ votes counted. He conceded the race around 8:30 p.m., endorsing Lumumba.
By about 9:30 p.m. more than 80 percent of the precincts’ votes were in, and Lumumba had a sizeable lead at 54 percent of the total votes. Sen. Horhn conceded the race around this time.
#Then the vote-counting halted after a technical glitch in the basement of the Hinds County Courthouse. Clerks needed access to a machine to download votes from one of the flash drives, which did not work at first, but the room where the machine they needed was—was locked. By 10 p.m. clerks and election-commission staff were able to download the rest of the votes and report the final results.
Lumumba ended the night with more than 55 percent of the total votes cast in the election, garnering 18,617 votes. Horhn, in second place, drew 21.21 percent of total votes. The results on election night included absentee ballots cast before the election but excluded affidavit ballots cast at the polls when a person went to the wrong precinct. Clerk staffers said that while there were several affidavit ballots to be counted on Wednesday, there were not enough to change the results and edge Lumumba out of winning a majority.
The presumptive mayor came close to winning the emergency mayoral run-off election back in 2014, after his father unexpectedly died. Mayor Tony Yarber and Lumumba emerged from the primary election with each candidate winning 31 percent of the vote. Yarber then took 54 percent in the 2014 runoff to defeat Lumumba then.
In the 2014 primary emergency primary election, 35,522 Jacksonians voted (about 1,000 more than last night’s election). More than 100,000 Jacksonians are registered to vote.
As far as city council races go, all incumbents running for re-election won: Ward 2 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr., Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes, Ward 4 Councilman De’Keither Stamps and Ward 5 Councilman Charles Tillman. Virgi Lindsay took home 65 percent of the vote to easily replace Margaret Barrett-Simon’s Ward 7 spot on council and beat out 25-year-old newcomer Ladarion Ammons, who still had a good showing.
The Ward 6 council race will go to a run-off in two weeks between Aaron Banks, a Yarber campaign staffer in 2014 who received 32 percent of the votes, and Ernest Slaughter, who received 23 percent of the votes. Banks or Slaughter will replace Council President Tyrone Hendrix, who retired to take a job with the Mississippi Association of Educators. Republican Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote faces independent William “Bill” Jordan in the general election, but no Democratic challenger.
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This is another example of the failure of Black Religious Leadership to properly guide and represent Black people, and their interest, instead of looking out for themselves. Maybe they need to spend time reading and understanding these two verses in their Bibles, Jere 23:1-2, Matt 7:15. I think the religious need to always forgive people that don’t ask for forgiveness, or show repentance, is sick and misguided.
Read the article below and leave your comments.
WASHINGTON —A group of black pastors Monday criticized African-American opponents of attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions for demonizing the Alabama Republican, instead characterizing him as someone who shows “respect and care for people of all races.”
The ministers are holdout Sessions supporters in a much larger crowd of opponents among Southern black clergy and African-American and civil rights groups, including the North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Alabama NAACP and the activist group PICO, which uses congregations and churches to help in community organizing.
“There is an attempt by some to demonize people and call them racist when there is actually no proof for it,” Evangelical Bishop Harry Jackson said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Let me say clearly, Sen. Sessions is not a racist.”
Jackson, the pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., said Sessions “worked to bankrupt the KKK in Alabama with a $7 million judgment,” and helped to desegregate the state’s public school system.
But clergy who are leaders of the African-American organizing group PICO, sent a different message Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider whether to recommend confirmation of Sessions by the full Senate. The committee will hear from Sessions on Tuesday.
Desmond Meade, president of the civil rights group Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said Sessions has not shown a strong commitment to racial equality or social justice.
“When you talk about the position of attorney general of the United States, that is an extremely powerful position, and I think it is prudent to scrutinize any individual being considered,” Meade said. “I don’t think that is a form of racism, and I’m weary of anyone that doesn’t have a sustained history of campaigning for civil rights. [Sessions] has not demonstrated a strong commitment to the restoration of civil rights.”
In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship after allegations of racism in his decisions as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. At least one former colleague testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions supported the Ku Klux Klan until he realized its members used marijuana. “One of the most important factors [in confirming a nominee] in my opinion, is to have an open and honest process,” says Dr. William Merritt, North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference state field director. “That gives any individual the right to present themselves in the manner that qualifies them for their job.”
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, the top prosecutor with a notorious reputation for turning a blind-eye to following ethics rules, has clearly seen the proverbial handwriting on the wall.
Williams a few days ago announced that he would not seek reelection to a third term. That suprise announcement evidenced belated recognition by Williams that his quest for reelection would be an uphill struggle if not an impossible mission thanks to fallout from his many ethical failings and questionable practices, as well as ongoing criminal investigations into his finances by the FBI and IRS.
That career-ending announcement by Williams came weeks after Philadelphia’s Ethics Board slapped this once promising and popular politician with a $62,000 fine for his failure to file mandatory financial disclosure forms for five years. His fine – the largest ever levied by Philadelphia’s Ethics Board – faulted Williams for not reporting over $160,000 in gifts that included fancy vacations and expensive jewelry, including from attorneys who were defending cases against his department.
Williams claimed improbably that he merely forgot to file the mandatory disclosure forms from 2010 to 2015.
But that claim fails the laugh test because Williams once served as Philadelphia’s Inspector General, the post tasked with ethics rule enforcement. During his announcement about withdrawing from reelection, Williams apologized for the embarrassment and shame he brought on the District Attorneys Office.
The Williams’ re-election prospects were already in doubt due to erosions of support among his core constituency in the black community and his calculated if unsuccessful effort to cultivate support from Philadelphia’s police union. That labor organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, has a history of reflexively backing police brutality and misconduct that primarily impacts blacks in the so-called City of Brotherly Love.
In recent weeks the FOP launched attacks on Williams arising in part from his decisions not to prosecute civilians who had been victims in questionable confrontations with police officers. Those FOP attacks included an anti-Williams billboard on the major interstate highway that runs through the center of Philadelphia. DA Williams with Philly FOP prez in better times. LBW Photo
Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s NAACP branch recently blasted Williams for failing to prosecute three white men involved in a fatal building collapse while gaining the convictions of two poor black men connected with that incident. A civil trial jury in that building collapse recently found that the men Williams refused to prosecute were most responsible for that fatal incident, awarding the victims and victims’ families nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in damages.
Williams was already under fire in Philadelphia’s black community for his prosecution of five black state representatives for their failure to report gifts on financial disclosure forms –- the same crime that Williams committed which led to his record-setting Ethics Board fine.
The total value of all ‘gifts’ received by those five legislators was less than half of the value of just one gift Williams received in 2013 and failed to report until August 2016: $45,000 worth of roofing repairs on his home.
Autopsies of Williams’ fall from grace in Philadelphia’s news media fail to note a failing that produced international condemnation of this top prosecutor: his repeated gratuitous assaults on imprisoned Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia journalist widely considered to be an American political prisoner because of how politically corrupted his trial and appeals process has been.
One such assault came in early 2014 when DA Williams, a Democratic, aligned himself with Tea Party Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey to torpedo President Obama’s nomination of a respected lawyer to head the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
The national police union had falsely accused Obama nominee Debo Adegbile of having successfully freed Abu-Jamal from death row when Adegbile worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The National FOP harped on Abu-Jamal’s conviction as a “cop killer.”
However, the lawyer whose courtroom arguments resulted in federal court rulings producing the conversion of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence into a life in prison term was not Adegbile but a law school professor who represented Abu-Jamal’s years before the LDF had even joined Abu-Jamal’s appeal.
The national FOP used Abu-Jamal as a bogey man to mask the true intent of its opposition to Adegbile: fear that Adegbile would continue Obama Administration efforts to address rampant police abuses. Pro Abu-Jamal protestors outside office of DA Williams. LBW Photo
The FOP letter that Seth Williams, Toomey and their Senate confederates seized upon to slam Adegbile clearly stated that organization’s concern that Adegbile would “certainly exacerbate” the Obama Administration’s “aggressive and punitive approach towards” police.
The national FOP bristled at the Justice Department’s investigation of errant police departments despite the fact that those investigations only produced recommendations for reforms not prosecutions of abusive officers or funding cuts for departments with persistent patterns of brutality.
DA Williams, hailing from a city with a history of police brutality, backed the national police union’s efforts to scuttle federal oversight of abuse policing. Williams’s actions against Obama’s nominee provided more evidence to critics who claimed he has an anti-black streak.
Rufus Seth Williams entered office in January 2010 with widespread support. Yet the actions and inactions of the first black to serve as the District Attorney of Philadelphia soon turned even avid supporters into ardent critics.
Williams, for example, campaigned for office in 2009 as an opponent of the death penalty. Yet in office, Williams bitterly castigated Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf for initiating a moratorium on executions in 2015, going so far as filing a legal challenge against it.
That moratorium on executions arose in part from revelations that staff members working for DA Williams had mislead state officials during their deliberations about a death row inmate. Philadelphia prosecutors were found to have illegally withheld critical evidence during that inmate’s murder trial in 1986, which tainted his conviction.
Williams, ironically, had campaigned in 2009 as an opponent of unjust convictions.
Williams wasted a lot of political capital defending three staff members caught up in ‘Porngate’ –- the scandal related to revelations that a bunch of Pennsylvania judges and stat- level prosecutors in the attorney general’s office had exchanged emails containing racist, misogynic and homophobic content. One of those staff members — a former state level prosector — was at the center of the prosecution of those five black state legislators and the two black men connected with that fatal building collapse. Williams repeatedly rejected requests to fire those ‘Porngate’ staff members, including demands from irate female members of Philadelphia’s City Council.
Williams’ failure to consistently pursue basic justice overshadowed the reforms he implemented.
Those failures included his indefensible insistance on a retrial of man cleared by DNA after having spent 25-years in prison, as well as his year-plus-long attempt to convict a young man for an alleged crime that defied common sense.
In that second case, the blind next-door neighbor of that young man –- a woman with a history of making false accusations -– had told police her dog had dialed 911, saving her from asphyxiation after an alleged robber had supposedly turned on her gas stove during an attempted break-in. Williams eventually dropped charges against man following criticisms in the media and from community activists over the absurd claim.
Philadelphia attorney and activist Michael Coard responded to a reporter’s inquiry about Williams’ decision to withdraw from the DA’s race with this statement: “I say good riddance to bad rubbish.” Over the weekend, the city’s main paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a lead editorial, called on Williams, who had said he intended to finish out his term of office, leaving early in 2018, to resign immediately because of his scandals.
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