Just last Thursday Gov. Tate Reeves said violence in the Jackson was a reason he vetoed legislation that would have pushed $13.2 million into a project at Lefleur’s Bluff, to expand a children’s playground and upgraded a golf course.
The project had been touted as a significant economic development project that could draw visitors from throughout the state and region.
Two days later, an officer killed a gunman at the Mudbug Festival at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds after a gun battle between teenagers.
According to the governor, more than 100 shots were fired into the crowd with rifles and other weapons before law enforcement stopped the attack.
“On countless occasions, I have expressed the importance of having a strong and a safe capital city,” Reeves said in vetoing the Lefleur’s Bluff project last Thursday.
Mudbug Festival shooting:1 dead, several injured in shooting at Mississippi Mudbug Festival
On Monday, Reeves expressed gratitude for the officers on the scene who stopped the attack quickly.
“I want to say thank you to the many law enforcement personnel that responded almost immediately and those who were on the scene and those who have worked around the clock to bring these perpetrators to justice,” Reeves said Monday.
While not under the jurisdiction of the Jackson Police Department, the shootings that sent five to the hospital and killed one did occur in the heart of the city of Jackson. The Mississippi State Fairgrounds fall under the jurisdiction of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.
The state Department of Agriculture and Commerce hosted the festival which was scheduled to run through Sunday. However, Sunday’s festivities were canceled after Saturday’s shootings. Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said people who bought advance tickets for Sunday would receive refunds. He said safety is a priority at the fairgrounds.
“I appreciate the rapid response from the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson Police Department,” Gipson said in a statement Sunday. “Their quick action in securing the scene prevented others from potentially being hurt.”
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is looking into the event, as it does with most shootings involving law enforcement officers in the state. However, they are not naming the agency for which the officer works.
Reeves, however, on Monday doubled down on his concerns with violence in Jackson and said that regardless of political party affiliation, all elected officials should pull together to help make the city a safer place.
“The fact of the matter is that the violence in Jackson has gone on for far too long, and we have to continue to work to get that under control,” Reeves said. “The reality is there are some individuals that have very little regard for human life, and those individuals need to be put in jail and stay in jail for a very long, long, long time.
“I hope this is an opportunity, I hope, for everyone in the capital city to come together and say that we are just not going to allow this anymore,” Reeves said. “I want to see everyone come together, put everything aside and say we are not going to allow this.”
In a separate press conference at Jackson City Hall, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba made similar remarks about government officials working together to help solve the ongoing problem of violence in Jackson.
“We must do all that we can to make certain this doesn’t take place,” Lumumba said.
“While JPD did not have jurisdiction in this matter, I appreciate Commissioner Gibson’s recognition that JPD did not hesitate to come to the assistance of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department … Hopefully, we see this as an opportunity to work together to find solutions to this very complex challenge.”
Lumumba suggested there is a trend in individuals committing crimes like Saturday’s incident in the Jackson area.
“We see some of our youngest residents involved,” Lumumba said. “We have to find out how we can interrupt the cycles of violence that we see. … We want to bring pragmatic solutions now.”
Lumumba said the city is partnering with Wells Fargo Bank to study mental health concerning crime in cities throughout the nation.
“The data bears out that we’re seeing younger, younger demographics involved in these types of incidents across the nation,” Lumumba said. “And so I think it’s important that we engage young people.”
Reeves said the state is looking into all aspects of Saturday’s attack and investigating how best to approach events at the state fairgrounds moving forward but continued to praise law enforcement at the Mudbug Festival for their professional response to the attack.
With several upcoming events at the Mississippi Coliseum and the fairgrounds scheduled in the following days and weeks, Reeves said he understands the apprehension those traveling to Jackson may feel.
“People will not come here unless they feel like they are going to feel safe,” Reeves said. “The most important and critical function of government is to ensure there is safety on the streets.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that there are people around the state that have doubts with respect to that right now and justifiably so,” Reeves said. “But I am hopeful that everyone can come together and ask what they can do to demand that we get control of this violent crime.”