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Council president gavels down mayor’s sister at relatively smooth meeting

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 12:56 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba was notably absent from a meeting Friday where council members were slated to vote on a measure disapproving of his recent actions.

However, his sister was there, and she was almost kicked out of council chambers after coming to his defense.

Friday, the council voted 3-1-2 on a resolution disapproving of the mayor and some of the comments he made disparaging council members at a Monday press conference.

The resolution also condemned the actions of several Lumumba staffers who council members say have disrespected them, insulted them, and threatened them.

“This is not a vote of no confidence. This is not a censure. This is a vote of disapproval because it was done publicly,” Ward 6 Councilman Aaron Banks said. “The mayor of this city said certain council members are dealing with bribery. Nobody has gotten on the media and said anything about the mayor and his family and accused him of anything. Nobody has. That has never happened.”

After a brief pause, Rukia Lumumba spoke up from the audience.

“What about the...,” Lumumba said, as she was cut off by the council president.

“What a minute. Wait. No, no, no, no. That is not allowed. Point of order,” President Virgi Lindsay said.

“I think it (is) important to acknowledge there were two wrongs...” Lumumba continued.

“Enough. Enough,” Lindsay said, gaveling down Lumumba. “No, this is not OK. I will not allow shouting from the audience. I am not going to allow this.”

“Please ask her to leave if she cannot refrain herself.”

Council President Virgi Lindsay gavels down the mayor's sister, who attempts to speak from the audience.

After the brief outburst, the council voted 3-1-2 on a motion to adopt the resolution.

Voting in favor were Banks, Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes, and Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley.

Opposing the measure was Ward 4 Councilman Brian Grizzell.

Lindsay and Ward 2 Councilwoman Angelique Lee abstained from the vote.

Grizzell said Friday was the first time he had seen the measure and that it was a “little one-sided.”

“This is admonishing the administration, but what are we going to do to our own, because we have council members going before the media making false statements, misleading statements,” he said. “We have council members spewing vitriol back and forth and, to me, it’s very one-sided.”

“This is not going to do anything but keep that back-and-forth going.”

The mayor and councilmembers have made public comments that could be considered disparaging. At a press conference Monday, Lumumba said Stokes and Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote were accepting bribes to steer a contract to Waste Management.

“When’s the last time that you saw Kenny Stokes show up to this many special council meetings? These are the things that you have to look at,” Lumumba said at Monday’s mayoral press briefing. “When’s the last time that you saw Kenny Stokes and Ashby Foote so closely aligned to one another? You have to ask yourself what is going on here.”

Stokes fired back at the mayor, saying he and Foote have spoken fewer than five times in the years they’ve served the city together.

“You know I’ve been at this house all my life. I don’t have a lot of bills,” Stokes said. “He’s the one driving all these new cars; he’s the one who needs money. I live in a poor neighborhood. My expenses are low. I don’t have to take money. I don’t need money.”

Stokes also made claims the mayor couldn’t prove that he was taken bribes and he wanted the mayor to take a drug test.

“I think the mayor is smoking too much dope,” he said. “And it’s affecting his thinking.”

The longtime councilman backed up his previous statements at Friday’s meeting. “I haven’t seen the resolution, but I understand what these council members are trying to do. I think it may be a step in the right direction,” he said. “I’ve been called a lot of things since I’ve been a member of this council... I ain’t never been called a liar. If Kenny Stokes says something he can prove it.”

Comments by both parties aside, Lee said the city officials need to work together, especially when Jackson is seeking millions of federal and state funds to address a myriad of water and sewer problems.

“We have the state legislature, members of Congress looking at us and we are currently asking them for millions and millions of dollars,” she said. “It’s up to us as council members and the administration to set an example, where we can show the state and Congress that we can be good stewards of this money and work together.”

“I’m just making a plea for both sides to come together, work together and move this city forward.”

Hartley agreed but said unity cannot be achieved until people are held accountable. “We need unity to move this city forward, but it can’t come at the expense of holding people accountable for what they do and say,” he said. “We want to make sure that the truth will always be out front.”

It was unclear if the measure passed or failed. State law says it takes a majority of a voting quorum to pass, and only three of the six members voted in favor.

Lindsay said the measure passed prior to adjourning the meeting.

Clerk of the Council Shanekia Jordan also said the measure passed.

In other news, the council approved the city’s claims docket on a 3-1-1 vote, reversing its decision to deny claims at a meeting Tuesday.

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