Campaign Trickery: Lumumba a 'Race Traitor,' Lee a 'Rankin Republican'? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Campaign Trickery: Lumumba a 'Race Traitor,' Lee a 'Rankin Republican'?

This flyer showed up on cars outside churches two days before the runoff. The Lumumba campaign claims they didn't produce it.

This flyer showed up on cars outside churches two days before the runoff. The Lumumba campaign claims they didn't produce it.

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This flyer, supposedly produced by the Chokwe Lumumba campaign, showed up on cars outside churches two days before the runoff. The campaign, though, says it's a fake.

— Supporters of men who are vying to be Jackson's next mayor were busy over the weekend with last-minute election trickery, some anonymous and some not, with much of it targeting church parking lots while people worshipped inside.

A campaign flyer, listing the Chokwe Lumumba campaign as its source, openly tried to paint opponent Jonathan Lee as "a Republican from Rankin County" in a four-color flyer paid for by his campaign committee, placed on car windows outside at least one church Sunday morning. The flyer ironically used a long-time Mississippi Republican trick of placing a picture of the opponent next to prominent members of the opposing party with Lee's photo next to Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour. (Past signs, such as at the Neshoba County Fair, and flyers by the GOP here have placed state candidates like Ronnie Musgrove next to photos of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bennie Thompson.)

The Lumumba campaign said this morning, however, that it did not produce the flyer as it indicates. "The committee to Elect Chokwe Lumumba has not produced any material against Jonathan lee. We did not produce any information or commercials," Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, told the JFP.

"We are allocating our resources to getting a message to the people. We don't have $300,000 on hand to be producing things against Jonathan Lee. ... That’s a promise: we have not produced anything about Jonathan Lee."

This flyer, calling for people to "vote for a real Democrat," used information published by the Jackson Free Press to make Lumumba's case that Lee is a Republican even though he "tries to hide it." It attributed to a May 5 JFP report the assertion that Lee had "voted in multiple Republican primaries," that his donors had given $1.2 million "to fund Republican candidates that oppose Barack Obama and Democrats nationwide" and that he "has lived in Rankin County most of his life, and moved to Jackson a few years ago to run for mayor."

There is truth in those assertions, but the flyer producer took liberties with the JFP factcheck report. Records do not show that Lee voted Republican in multiple primaries, but in one primary and the following runoff in the 2009 Republican primary when Barbour was running for reelection. He confirmed to the JFP that he had voted "for a neighbor" in a Republican primary in Rankin County, but could not recall the name.

The JFP also did not say that Lee is "from" Rankin County. He was born in Jackson and lived here about a decade before his family moved to Rankin County. The next time he lived in Jackson was when he moved back here four years ago. The JFP also did not say he moved back in 2009 in order to run for mayor. We have no way of knowing that.

Finally, it is true that Lee's donors have given $1.2 million to federal Republican candidates and PACs since 2008.

Asked about the fact that the flyer cites information from the JFP that Lumumba has used in debates, Lumumba's son responded: "We’ve mentioned the fact that he has received things from Republican donors. That's public information."

The Lee supporter who provided the flyer to the Jackson Free Press declined to comment and asked to remain anonymous.

The same morning saw a very different kind of flyer placed on windshields outside churches accusing Lumumba of being a "race traitor." This flyer was a crude black-and-white flyer of the sort we've seen distributed at the last minute in previous campaigns. It was fashioned as a "wanted" poster accusing Lumumba of being a "snitch" for a former police officer against the Republic of New Afrika in 1973, with a poor reproduction of a letter from the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission files and a photo of Lumumba taken from the Sovereignty Commission files "How are we going to trust him to be our mayor?" the flyer asks. (In the Sovereignty files, all files flagged Chokwe Lumumba are here.)

Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, said today that the flyer is "classless, it's inaccurate."

"It presents a contradictory message: either my father is an extreme black militant to be feared or he's a race traitor," he added. "He's never been a police informant. They can't say on one hand he's a black militant who hates the police and on the other say he's a police informant." Lumumba said he knows the flyer was placed on cars outside College Hill Baptist Church.

The letter is distorted on the flyer so you can only read a sentence they call out of context. But when read on the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission site, you quickly see that Lumumba was simply informing the police of when the rally would be held, which happened all the time during the Civil Rights Movement. In other words, the sound bite is pulled out of context and completely distorts the letter.

The JFP received a copy of the flyer Sunday night from two different sources. One of them was Cassandra Welchin, who found the flyer on her car after the 8 a.m. services at New Horizon Church. "At the end of service we find this flier and Jonathan's push card on our cars. Not all cars had the flier, but all had the push cards. This is low and, and it seems desperate," she told the JFP.

Both Lumumba and Lee had spoken at the service, Welchin said. "(Bishop Ronnie Crudup) gave each of them an opportunity to speak, and they did. We thanked them for coming, and Crudup even called them up during the service to pray over them and their families. It was very sweet. Crudup released them to go, and I walked out to hug both candidates and their families. But when I got to my car, I was very disappointed in his strategy and even more angry to imply that Mr. Lumumba's a sell out to the African American community, his culture, convictions and lifelong work that so many of us including Lee have benefited from. It's telling of the immaturity of Lee!" Welchin said.

Lumumba's son, as well as a second source, told the Jackson Free Press that a perennial campaign operative, Bob Hickinbottom, has been passing out the flyers recently, as well as speaking out on behalf of the Lee candicacy on 90.1 FM. The JFP first learned about HIckinbottom in our coverage of Frank Melton's campaign during which he routinely appeared on local radio shows to criticize opponents; he later became a paid member of Melton's staff, as we reported here. We have not confirmed that he passed out these flyers, however.

The JFP sent a message to the Lee campaign seeking a response about the flyer and Hickinbottom's role, if any. The campaign has refused to respond to the Jackson Free Press in recent weeks and has not yet responded to our message for comment for this article.

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This sign appeared in East Fondren, Belhaven and northeast Jackson two days before the mayoral runoff, but not in other parts of the city.

The other mysterious effort that emerged over the weekend appeared much more innocent. On Saturday, JFP readers noticed that white "VOTE" signs were appearing around Fondren, Belhaven and northeast Jackson, adding that "The future of Jackson depends on it." Readers wanted to know if the signs were just targeting Wards 1 and 7, wards with the highest proportion of white voters and parts of the city where Jonathan Lee did best in the May 7 primary.

A drive through midtown, south Jackson and west Jackson Sunday afternoon did not reveal any of the signs outside northeast Jackson, Belhaven and Fondren west of North State Street or above Pine Hill Street. The JFP issued a call in social media to learn who put the signs out, but so far have gotten no response. They do not include any kind of attribution on the sign.

A reader did forward an email from the Lee campaign, however, that indicated that Ward 1 could make or break the election for Lee and that it is the primary focus for get-out-the-vote efforts:

Please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Jordan Sudduth and I am organizing the Get Out The Vote in Ward 1 (NE Jackson) for the Jonathan Lee for Mayor campaign. I was born and raised here in Jackson, and after graduating from Jackson Academy in 2004 and Ole Miss in 2009, I have spent a good amount of time in politics, both in D.C. and Mississippi. In the campaigns I have either managed or assisted I have always been a "numbers guy", so let me assure you I am not messing around with what I am about to tell you. Simply put, this mayoral election could very well hinge on voter turnout in Ward 1 (NE Jackson). For example, Precinct 46 (which votes at Christ United Methodist Church) has a total of 3200 registered voters; however, only right over 1000 people voted in the initial primary back on May 7. The only possible way to reach those 2200 other voters is by contacting them. I am asking you to please volunteer for the campaign, for Jonathan, and for the future of our city.
At this point, voting is not enough; we MUST increase turnout. Call me immediately to get on board; let's not be regretful on Wednesday morning...
-Jordan Sudduth

Jordan W. Sudduth
, Jonathan Lee for Mayor of Jackson

If you have received campaign materials using these or similar tactics, please email them to ladd@jacksonfreepress.com.

R.L. Nave contributed to this story.

Comments

cacaloony 4 years, 6 months ago

The original letter is here: http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=%2Fdata%2Fsov_commission%2Fimages%2Fpng%2Fcd10%2F073348.png&otherstuff=1

The letter used, ironically, is from the State Sovereignty Commission, reporting on their "investigation" into a rally that Chokwe Lumumba was planning....hence...his "communication" with the JPD police chief, because, you know....if you're gonna have a rally or demonstration, you need a city permit. Guess that's "snitching".......worst thing I've ever seen.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, cacaloony. It is VERY important to add a bit of historical perspective to the unconfirmed rumor that flyer is pushing -- which is a very serious allegation. The racist state of Mississippi set up the sovereignty commission to spy on anyone who believed in equal rights for people of color. And, yes, there were actual informants, and there were those that the racist commission set up to look like they were helping the state in order to divide and conquer the movements.

One thing I've learned from years of research in the MSC files: If it was on MSC letterhead, it stunk.

So just a word of caution. I have no more or less information than anyone else on the veracity of this claim, but I am highly skeptical about it.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

All, I knew I'd seen Bob Hickinbottom's name pop up in a campaign report recently (like a blast from the past). Interestingly, he is listed as one of Frank Bluntson's top 10 campaign contributors; he gave $1,000.

You can find a variety of references to Bob Hickinbottom (and Hickingbottom) in the JFP's archives.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

My word. I just read the actual Sovereignty Commission letter that was distorted on the "Race Traitor" flyer. It doesn't said anything about being informant. The RNA was holding a rally, and Lumumba was telling the police when it was going to be. AND THEY DISTORTED THIS TO SAY LUMUMBA WAS A "RACE TRAITOR"?!? What kind of campaign operative does something like this?

I'm speechless.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

I have updated the story to reflect the lunacy that the letter was distorted completely out of context. Again, I'm speechless.

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Knowledge06 4 years, 6 months ago

WAPT is using, on its website, that referenced sign above as the picture above it's article about voting on tomorrow. That's amazing!

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

That is remarkable. A media outlet ought to know better than to push the false meme that an entire city's future hangs on one election. This is like the crime sensationalism that we finally seemed to get other media to tamp down on (a little).

And let me guess: They're not reporting that the mysterious signs are targeting whiter parts of Jackson?

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

It should go without saying that if the Lee campaign did the signs and distributed as part of its GOTV effort to targeted parts of the city where they need more of the white vote, they should have put the campaign's name on them. Transparency, folks, transparency.

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Knowledge06 4 years, 6 months ago

Interesting poll just came out. Lee's lead has dwindled. 46/42 with 12 percent undecided. Wow! A 10 point swing in 1 week. Debates matter

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Knowledge06 4 years, 6 months ago

If you take into consideration the margin of error. The race is tied. The undecided are the key. I'm sure the Lee campaign is scared. You can't win with fear nor can you take the electorate for granted. You reap what you sow!

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

Wow, where did you see that poll, Knowledge? I had a feeling the last week might have had an effect; I can't imagine that the TV ad slamming Lumumba's religion didn't take a few points away.

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Knowledge06 4 years, 6 months ago

Donna, it's on WAPT's website. Interesting details inside the numbers also.

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JLucas 4 years, 6 months ago

Ugh here we go again. i will be so glad when this stupid election is over.

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ladycap68 4 years, 6 months ago

THIS IS WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT LAST WEEK> THIS IS THE FLYER I SAW!!!!!!

i am VERY disapopinted in Chokwe. either you are for black people or you are AGAINST THEM.

you dont SNITCH TO THE POLICE!!!!!

i did not want to vote for Johnathan Lee but i'm not sure i have a CHOICE anymore...........

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tyler.cleveland 4 years, 6 months ago

Quick, someone grab the tranq gun!

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

ladycap, you might read the link to the actual MSC memo. There is nothing here that indicates that Lumumba was a "snitch." The whole thing is a fabrication and a lie based on the letter they blurred out that is supposedly the evidence. Vote against Lumumba if you will (and from your posts so far, I'm guessing you're another campaign sock puppet, but no matter), but don't vote against him based on this garbage. It was the lowest campaign moment I ever remember.

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ladycap68 4 years, 6 months ago

tyler LOL!!

yes, i am an ANGRY BLACK WOMAN!!! hahaha

but this is why i THANK GOD for the Jackson FREE Press. for making sure things like this are here for ALL of us to see.

this poster says Chokwe Lumumba is not his real name??

he is really Eddie Talliaferro????????

i am so DISCUSTED with both of them. i am NOT going to vote today.

OR - i may write in "HARVEY JOHNSON" LOL!

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

Yes, his birth name is Edwin Taliaferro, which we've reported for years now.

We haven't endorsed either one, either.

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ladycap68 4 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Ladd... thank you for the actual document.

i have read it.

it says "CHOKWE LUMUMBA of DETROIT, MICHIGAN".

i did not know Chokwe was from Detroit.

and he is making fun of Johnathan for living in RANKING COUNTY???? LOL

i have nothing against Detroit but really now.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

Ladycap, with due respect, you must be living under a rock not to know that Lumumba is originally from Detroit. And the Mississippi Sovereignty investigators were going to miss no opportunity to point that out about all those "outside agiators" fighting for equal rights for black Mississippians.

It is probably relevant to point out that Mr. Lumumba moved to Jackson decades ago and Mr. Lee four years ago. For those who care.

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ladycap68 4 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Ladd,

i admit i don't pay good attention all the time to politics BUT.

i did not know Chokwe Lumumba's real name was Eddie Talliaferro.

i did not know he was from Detroit.

so now i was abvout to vote for Chokwe Lumumba from Jackson Mississippi, when in actuality i was about to vote for Eddie Talliaferro from Detroit Michican.

what??????

like i said i am DISCUSTED with both of them.

i want to know though.

when i was a girl my mama used to tell me about Cheif Tullos, said he would sooner shoot a black man as look at him.

why does a brother like Chokwe got to be in DAILY CONTACT with a man like that?

if Johnathan Lee wins, i hope he remembers that Jackson is a BLACK TOWN now.

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jebowley 4 years, 6 months ago

Have you done any investigation on the anti-Lee poster? It obviously is a much better produced and much more expensive poster, and probably had a larger circulation. Does Lumumba 'protest to much' in his strong denials of knowing about it?

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

We can't answer any of that. To be honest, I don't know why they'd disavow knowledge; it says basically same thing that radio ad with Bennie Thompson did.

Of course, we'd like to sniff out who did it, but if someone faked the campaign's name on there, we'd just about need someone to tell us who did it. The other fly was easier to track down (a) because it's a certain's person's M.O., (b) people told us it was probably him. And turns out he has a PAC doing radio ads that one of our reporters heard and traced it back to a form at the city clerk's office today. HIckingbottom, however, has not confirmed that he did the flyer, so still don't know for sure:

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jebowley 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks, Donna. Yes, i see Lumumba doesn't disavow knowledge; only that he didn't produce the flyers. Chances seem good that he knew about them and approved.

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

And let's be intellectually honest: The two flyers aren't morally equivalent. The anti-Lee Republican is certainly a campaign ploy -- but it would only be as bad as the "race traitor" one if it was a complete fabrication with no basis whatsoever in reality. The truth is, Lee has massive Republican support. That's just fact. (And I'm finding it remarkable that so many Republicans say it's an insult to accuse him of that, but I digress.)

The cruder "race traitor" flyer blurs a MSC memo and says it proves that Lumumba worked with the white establishment against his own race with no semblence of reality to back it up. It's fine to criticize them both, but they are not the same thing. The "race traitor" one is much, much worse. The Republican one uses the very same trick that GOP campaigns have used in Mississippi for years: "guilt" by association. It's up to people to decide whether they either like or dislike that association. Some do, some don't. Fair.

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ladycap68 4 years, 6 months ago

i agree... the Chokwe poster is not very profesional.

but it does look like the Truth. it told ME alot about "Eddie Taliafero" I DID NOT KNOW.

ok, so Chokwe was in "daily contact" with Cheif Tullos. maybe he liked the police back then, and does not like the police today.

that does not make him a race traitor.

Ms Ladd, i know this Hickingbottom fool. let's just say BOTTOM is the key word LOL

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donnaladd 4 years, 6 months ago

No, lady, that's not what it indicates. I've read enough MSC files to know how closely the police tracked "instigators" of any kind. They all had to communicate with the police about their rallies and such. Again, criticize Lumumba for all sorts of other things, but this one is a stinker.

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marcus 4 years, 6 months ago

This race comes to inclusion versus exclusion. Yes lady Jackson is a Blacktown, 84-87% so. Is this pay back for Jim Crow that we won't include the minority of the city. WE (yes I am black) have had 16 consecutive years to make progress in this city. WE (yes I am a Jacksonian) must make a place at the table for all who want to invest and steer Jackson to the path that makes sense. It comes down to the KUSH plan (exclusion) versus the Lee CORE plan (inclusion).

Chokwe (Eddie T) is a speaker by trade and trained to over talk as an attorney. Just think about what is right for YOUR city.

Jackson derserves better.

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Capitolinsider 4 years, 6 months ago

I could not have said it better myself.

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jcaudle 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Lumumba's son on the statement "They can't say on one hand he's a black militant who hates the police and on the other say he's a police informant". I've heard him say that he hates the police myself so I'm sure he's never been an informat. As a police officer I feel bad for the officers with JPD. It's going to get real bad over there.

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