Saturday, April 13, 2024
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Mississippi Law on Protesting




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A federal judge has issued a temporary block on a newly enacted Mississippi law that mandates individuals to obtain permission from state police before engaging in protests near government buildings in the capital city of Jackson, Your Content has learned.

U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate expressed concerns about the law’s ambiguity and its potential to infringe upon First Amendment rights, particularly for those wishing to express their dissent against government actions.

The legislation, passed earlier this year by the majority-white and Republican-led Mississippi Legislature, stipulated the need for state-issued permits for demonstrations in certain areas of Jackson, a city predominantly inhabited by Black residents and governed by Democrats.

In addition, lawmakers passed a separate bill expanding the authority of the state-run Capitol Police department within the city, establishing a new court supervised by a judge appointed by the state Supreme Court chief justice, and granting the chief justice the power to appoint four additional judges to collaborate with the four elected circuit court judges in Hinds County, where Jackson is situated.

Hinds County, also predominantly Black and governed by Democrats, hosts the majority of Mississippi’s elected judges.

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Advocates of the bills argued that they aimed to enhance safety in Jackson, a city with a population of approximately 150,000 that has experienced over 100 homicides annually for the past three years. Opponents, however, asserted that the legislation undermines local self-governance.

Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, signed the bills into law, with most of the provisions scheduled to take effect on Saturday.

Judge Wingate confirmed on Thursday that he had dismissed Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph from a lawsuit filed by the NAACP challenging the law’s provisions concerning policing and the judiciary.

Last month, Wingate issued a temporary order preventing the majority of the law from being enforced on Saturday.

The law pertaining to protests mandates the state Department of Public Safety to establish regulations outlining the required information for protest organizers and the standards the department would employ in determining whether to grant permits.

Wingate highlighted the absence of such regulations and the potential for individuals to face criminal penalties for protesting without a state permit.

He suggested that the department draft and submit regulations, a process that would take several weeks, after which he could reconsider the law’s implementation.

Throughout the past year, protests near state government buildings in downtown Jackson have taken place, including rallies in January, February, and March against the courts and legislation related to policing.

In the previous fall, the Poor People’s Campaign organized demonstrations outside the Governor’s Mansion, drawing attention to the state’s inadequate investment in Jackson’s struggling water system.

Individuals planning events in downtown Jackson are already required to obtain permits issued by the city, a procedure consistent with many other regions in the state.

However, according to the lawsuit, individuals would now need permission from both the city and the state for protests or events in certain parts of Jackson, while protests or events near state government buildings elsewhere in Mississippi would not necessitate state permission, according to U.S. News.

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