JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders vow to fight a bill proposing control of the Jackson Evers Airport and the Hawkins Field Airport be turned over to the state.
As WJTV’s Lucy Dieckhaus reports they call this a power grab that could be motivated by race.
The Jackson-Evers and Hawkins Field airports may soon be controlled by the state– that’s if a proposed bill is signed into law. and NAACP leaders say this isn’t about improving the airport.
NAACP leaders say this isn’t about improving the airport.
“It is a power grab because the authority do not look like individuals who many in the senate and possibly the house think they should look,” said Derrick Johnson. “We want to raise the question of is race a central motivation behind the interest in taking over the airport.”
One city leader says the state has not had a track record of successful management and asks how they will manage the airport.
“The state of Mississippi wants to take over the airport but they don’t want to fix a pothole. They don’t want to pay their own water bills, so that’s what I say to the governor. Pay their water bills and help the city of Jackson fix a problem and not create more problems,” said Councilman De’Keither Stamps.
The bill would put the Metropolitan Area Airport Authority in charge and replace the current airport authority.
In the bill, the governor would get five direct appointments and Stamps believes he will essentially control two more because the Mississippi Development Authority and the National Guard would make up the other two.
“That’s seven members who will come through the governor’s office either directly or indirectly to one board and that’s too much power for any democrat or republican governor,” said Stamps.
They call for the state to work with the city.
“That the citizens of Jackson they are not disenfranchised, and that the investment that they have put into this airport for well over 55 years is not usurped,” said Johnson.
“Together we can be great but divided we can just be 50th in everything,” said Stamps.
The bill proposes the current airport authority be dissolved on July 1st.
The NAACP says this must go before the federal government for approval.
We checked with the Federal Aviation Administration, and they are expected to get back to us tomorrow.
I also reached out to Senator Josh Harkins who authored this bill but he has not returned our request for an interview or comment.