Hello everyone! As the new editor-in-chief, I’m happy to introduce a new segment of summarizations of recent local news that could interest Millsaps students in an effort to get our community more aware of and involved in our city. We still recommend that you personally subscribe to local news and read more in the articles provided.
For information on COVID-19 in Hinds County: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/hinds-mississippi-covid-cases.html
Medical Marijuana in Mississippi
Medical marijuana was voted on in Mississippi almost a year ago during the presidential election, and residents showed their support for Amendment 65 which allowed possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, specified over twenty medical conditions that qualified, and the biggest difference between it and Alternative 65A was that it didn’t leave nearly as much to be decided by Congress. Those who opposed 65A pointed out Mississippi’s Congress is conservative on this issue, and the governor doesn’t support it, so they would most likely instill harsh restrictions.
However, Madison’s mayor found a technicality in Mississippi’s laws that required five congressional district votes on amendments when the state currently only has four, and Amendment 65A was overturned. Our lawmakers are still trying to implement a medical program, but Tate Reeves has refused to call a special session it until some changes are made such as allowing physicians to prescribe the 3.5-gram industry standard and limiting others to 2.7 grams. His office submitted ten demands of which only three weren’t met, but until he calls a special session, movement on the bill has been stalled. Some other notable highlights in the draft are the 30% and 60% cap on THC in flowers and concentrates respectively, which would make Mississippi the first to ratify a THC limit. In addition, employers can still fire those who fail drug tests even with a prescription.
Mississippi’s Gender Wage Gap
The Mississippi Senate’s Labor Committee met on September 29th to discuss implementing an equal pay law because we are the last state without one. When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was ratified, the national wage gap was at 40%. Today in Mississippi, the wage gap is approximately 27% which disproportionately affects women of color: white women make 25% less than men, but Hispanic women earn 37% less, Native American women 41% less, and Black women 44% less compared to a man’s salary in Mississippi.
Almost half of Mississippi’s workforce is composed of women, but men’s labor rates have been rising since the initial drop during COVID-19 while women’s labor rates haven’t moved much. Leaders of this bill have interpreted this information as women were the majority of essential workers.
In addition, United Way has released “Alice Report,” revealing that impoverished women in Mississippi are almost always their family’s main source of income and more recently, the only source of money.
$77 Million Misspent in State Welfare Money
On October 12th, state auditors concluded a two-year investigation on the financial trail of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Through illegal authorizations under the former Department of Human Services Executive Director and unfulfilled work contracts, $77 million was rerouted from impoverished families. The nonprofits Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center were also involved in misusing this amount. If the State Auditor’s compensation demands are met by all parties served, they will receive more than the amount that was misused. However, the impact on the families who needed that money is irreversible.
Important Documents Going Digital in Mississippi
Mississippi is currently attempting to follow Louisiana’s footsteps in offering driver licenses and vaccination cards online. Electronic driver licenses may be offered as early as November, and officials are still exploring adding other licenses such as hunting and fishing.
Jackson Planetarium Undergoing $15 Million Renovation Before Opening in 2023
The Russel C. Davis Planetarium has been closed since experiencing roof damage in 2018, but renovation plans have been underway since the summer of 2020. The project’s leaders are currently working to offer more STEM-focused exhibits, some in collaboration with NASA and private companies that specialize in space travel. They are still designing the building plans, but it is projected to be completed by the end of 2023, so perhaps our freshmen and sophomores will get a chance to enjoy it by the end of their time at Millsaps.
Possible Mississippi Financial Aid Changes for Future College Students
The Post-Secondary Board recently unanimously voted in favor of “Mississippi One Grant,” which would replace Mississippi Tuition Grant (MTAG), Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant (MESG), the Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students (HELP), and Mississippi’s merit-based grants. Mississippi One Grant provides funding for students based on their ACT scores and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from FASFA. The highest award that can be granted is $4,500. Over 4,000 more students are expected to become eligible for college aid under this program, but students will on average earn approximately $200 less. However, this disproportionately affects people of color: while white students average about $80 less, average Black students earn almost $700 less. However, Mississippi officials claim that their current financial aid programs are over-budget and unsustainable. Students currently attending college will not be affected if Mississippi One Grant is implemented.
Three People Murdered, Another Three Injured at Club Rain
On October 17th at approximately 2:30 in the morning, shots were fired into Club Rain from across the street on Medgar Evers Boulevard in West Jackson. Three victims in their early twenties were found deceased due to multiple gunshot wounds: McComb resident Alicia Brown was found near the front of the building, and Elijah Bridges of Vicksburg and JSU student Deanne Bell were discovered in the back storage room. Three others are currently recovering from injuries, and Jackson police are currently pursuing Jeremy Jones as a person of interest.
Drive-by Shooting on State Street Near Beasley Road
At approximately 3:30 p.m. on October 15th, a vehicle’s passenger used an AR-15 to kill a driver of another car, a 34-year-old named Drarus Moore. The police currently have two suspects who they believe targeted the victim because of a disagreement.
One Stop Gas Station Shooting
On October 14th, a 21-year-old man named Eric Damante Jackson was shot multiple times at One Stop gas station by Raymond Road and Shady Lane. Alonte Anderson was arrested as a suspect two days afterwards, and the current motive theory is revenge.
Man Killed on Cox Street
On the morning of October 13th, a man was shot multiple times on Cox Street. The police haven’t released any information about the victim’s identity or suspects at this time.
Pedestrian Hit-and-Run on Northside Drive
At approximately four in the morning on October 12th, Chasmine Leavy was hit by a white Chevy impala while crossing the street at Northside and Londonderry Drive intersection.
Transgender Man Murdered
On October 11th, a Black transgender man named Mel Groves was shot multiple times. He was able to drive himself to the hospital but fainted upon exiting his car and later passed from complications. He was an active member in the Jackson community and a plant soil scientist at Alcorn State University. The Jackson Police Department hasn’t released any possible suspects or confirmed that this was a hate crime, but the victim’s friends claimed that he was constantly afraid of being attacked for his gender identity. The police and media are currently being criticized for repeatedly misgendering and dead-naming Groves.
Governor Pushes for Added Law Enforcement After Drive-By Shooting
At approximately 10 p.m. on October 11th, shots were fired from a white Honda Accord into a Dodge Challenger in downtown Jackson near Farris and Capitol streets. One witness claimed that the attacker fired approximately 30 rounds and chased the victim until they crashed into two other cars outside of Walthall Lofts. The driver was taken to the hospital, but the police haven’t released any information about his medical condition. Tate Reeves claimed that he heard the gunshots, which inspired a speech about how the downtown police needs more members and funding.
March Against Violence in Jackson
On October 9th, a march aimed to bring awareness to the increased violence in Jackson began in front of the local police department. Community members, police officers, and victims’ families assembled to talk about the 114 recorded murders this year as of that date with over 90% involving guns; many predict that the city will break the previous year’s record (130 homicides) for the fourth year in a row. As indicated earlier in this crime section, at least nine people have been murdered since this march. Both the Jackson Police Chief and Hinds County Interim Sheriff believe this is due to a lack of adequate parenting, and the sheriff suggested creating programs directed at children along with increased community involvement in reporting crimes and more police checkpoints to catch illegal guns.