Stamps: 'Dadgum Low' to Complain About Lumumba Mural | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Stamps: 'Dadgum Low' to Complain About Lumumba Mural

A now-removed mural honoring late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba.

A now-removed mural honoring late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. Photo by Trip Burns.

The removal of a mural in Jackson's Monument Park that honors the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, inscribed with Lumumba's portrait and the phrases "Peace & Unity in the Streets" and "One City. One Aim. One Destiny," is turning into an emotional and politically charged issue going into Tuesday's special election for mayor.

The scuttlebutt is that a number of people, including one or more candidates for Jackson mayor, complained to city officials that the mural gave an unfair political advantage to Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who is one of the people vying to become the next mayor and uses similar messages in his campaign materials.

Early Thursday morning, crews from the city's parks-and-recreation department painted over the mural, which artists began when Lumumba died in late February and completed the day before his memorial.

It's unclear who gave the order to have mural covered. Calls to city-hall communications Director Jewell Davis, parks Director Allen Jones and Chief Administrative Officer Synarus Green were unreturned as of this evening. Acting Mayor Charles Tillman issued a statement in which he reaffirms the city's respect for the late mayor.

"It came to our attention that one of our city-owned parks had been painted with certain words, slogans, and designs that had not been authorized or permitted by the City. Consistent with our policies and City ordinances, the painting was removed," Tillman wrote.

“In continuing our quest to honor the memory and legacy of our late Mayor, our actions, in this instance, were in keeping with Mayor Lumumba’s high moral and ethical standards that we were fortunate to experience.”

Reached by phone this evening, Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps said he does not know who complained about the mural to get it brought down, but that Tillman likely felt the city should remove it as a precaution ahead of what could be an tight and potentially testy special election.

"We need to do everything to not be another Hattiesburg," Stamps said, referring to the 2013 Hattiesburg mayoral election that was entangled in court challenges and allegations of impropriety before incumbent Mayor Johnny Dupree re-won his seat over the challenger.

"We shouldn't have been in this place. I don't think this (the mural) was a big enough issue to be contested," but someone could have used it to demand another election, he added.

Rukia Lumumba, the daughter of Mayor Lumumba and sister of Chokwe A. Lumumba, wrote an open letter to Jackson saying she is "saddened and disappointed to hear" of the removal of the tribute to her father.

"The mural was painted prior to my brother’s decision to run for mayor and absent my family’s request or knowledge. That is why it was especially hurtful and came as a shock to learn that the mural was painted over due to complaints, by a few, that the message of the mural was too close to my brother, Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s platform," Rukia wrote.

She went to say that the "mural served as memorial and a reminder of the love my father had for the City of Jackson…a constant call to Jacksonians, near and far, that we must work together" to help improve Jackson.

Stamps said the council has put out a number of fires, referring to complaints about city resources being used for political purposes.

"We've been having to referee this thing. I wish (candidates) would keep it clean and run your race," he said. "What they should do is let us run the city, and everybody go run their campaigns ... instead (of us) trying to safeguard against possible contested elections. ... It would tear the city apart if we had to do the election again."

Stamps is one of three members of the council who is not seeking public office this year. He said candidates should rein in their campaigns and their supporters.

"If I was a candidate, I wouldn't have complained about a mural ... painted by supporters and families (of Mayor Lumumba)," Stamps said. "I wouldn't be that dadgum low."

Comments

shbkyn 3 years, 7 months ago

I feel the city council did not show any respect to Mayor Lumumba's children, whatsoever. They could have advised them of the ordinance, and that it had to come down. Better still, why didn't they met, and advise the public, and his children of the ordinance? We are all hurt, his friends, his supporters, and we feel we were not shown any respect, before painting over our brother's mural. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, obviously, they went about it the wrong way. As a friend and supporter of my brother, had we been advised it was a violation of city ordinace, it would not have been so distasteful . This is no comedown on the council, because I know many of them supported our brother, but in a haste to correct the violation, Chokwe Lumumba, his children, Rukia, and Antar, his other family members, his significant other Glory, and all his friends and supporters were disrespected. I feel an apology is in order.

1

shbkyn 3 years, 7 months ago

I am a native Mississippian, who lives in another state, but I still came to Jackson to help Mayor Lumumba, campaign. I just saw the mural for the first time. It was magnificent, it was a complete image of Chokwe Lumumba.

1

seanbolton 3 years, 7 months ago

Ridiculous! All the city had to do was bak track the recent reports from their meetings and they would have seen that this was the same thing cooper-stokes asked everybody to vote on during the council meeting. I hate hearsay, but I was informed by a reliable source that they had requested permission from the city council to MOVE THIS FORWRD! If the council said YES, who had the right to say NO. If Stamps voted yes on this park project then why not just come out and say so! That would help to clear all this up!

1

tomhead1978 3 years, 7 months ago

Attention to the mural itself had died down a little, but now the mural's destruction is a national news story. The City Council member who complained no doubt feels like an idiot right about now.

0

SpaceMountain80 3 years, 7 months ago

Did the creators of the mural have permission from the city to paint city property? It sounds like the answer is no and, if so, this is a pretty simple case. It doesn't matter how artistic I am or how good my intentions might be, I don't have the right to paint city property.

0

donnaladd 3 years, 7 months ago

It's not really that simple. Under the circumstances, the city could have easily have approved the mural retroactively. I'm also guessing there is a lot of public art around that doesn't have permits.

And most importantly, Stamps made it clear that this was done for political reasons.

For t he same reason, the city should go around and take down ALL the candidate signs that violate the city's campaign sign ordinance. To be fair.

1

tstauffer 3 years, 7 months ago

For the same reason, the city should go around and take down ALL the candidate signs that violate the city's campaign sign ordinance. To be fair.

THAT would be a heckuva jobs program. We could keep folks busy for weeks. :)

0

SpaceMountain80 3 years, 7 months ago

Donna, it really is that simple. I understand there are politics involved but logic dictates that you have to get permission from the property owners before painting their property. If not, I think I will go paint my neighbor's house this afternoon and see what he thinks about it when he gets home.

I agree that I don't like the campaign signs being everywhere as well, so I would be in favor of that. Of course, those campaign signs are little less permanent than painted concrete.

1

js1976 3 years, 7 months ago

Someone painted this mural without the permission of the city so the city should take action if someone complains about it. I'm sure it would not have been very difficult to obtain permission from the city of Jackson to paint this mural legally.

In regards to other public art without permits, if someone turns it in the city should have it removed. It really is that simple.

0

donnaladd 3 years, 7 months ago

All, this isn't a story about permitting. The city can decide to take action on permits.

The point y'all are (intentionally?) missing here is that at least one sitting city councilman apparently threatened to get the election thrown out if the city didn't erase it entirely. Not that anyone in the case has yet responded to our open-records request for the documents. I smell a cover-up at least by a couple of people who don't want us to confirm the rumors of who did this.

An analogy would be if one or more elected official/candidates threatened to sue for a new election if illegal campaign signs (many of them right now) weren't taken down immediately.

Yes, you should obey the sign ordinance, but using it for political purposes is disgusting -- and a warning sign about the person who did it.

1

js1976 3 years, 7 months ago

"The point y'all are (intentionally?) missing here is that at least one sitting city councilman apparently threatened to get the election thrown out if the city didn't erase it entirely"

I see nothing in your article about any city councilman threatening to get the election thrown out. I see a reference to the Hattiesburg election made by Stamps, but no threats. The point I see is that a number of people complained, including a councilman.

0

donnaladd 3 years, 7 months ago

The point of the article, and Stamps' comments, is that the council has been dodging these things from council folks running for mayor. So far, the city has not responded to our request for information on who filed the complaint to find out for sure, which is what this is about. Our city reporter is calling council people who are running for responses.

If they would just provide the paperwork, we could at least see what that says and squelch rumors about who did it.

But, again, the point for us isn't that there isn't a permit and what needs to happen, but whether it's being done for political purposes ... by whomever. That's what should concern us all.

0

Lindahelen 3 years, 7 months ago

"In whose ward is the park located and is that councilperson running for mayor?" might be the most pertinent question to ask at this point though by no means can the answer be considered 'evidence'. That most likely won't be revealed until after the votes are in tonight, whether the complainant makes it in to the runoff or not. (And if said complainant does make it into the runoff, this will become political hay for their opponent.)

0

js1976 3 years, 7 months ago

"But, again, the point for us isn't that there isn't a permit and what needs to happen, but whether it's being done for political purposes ... by whomever. That's what should concern us all."

I'll go ahead and answer this for you, of course it is being used for political purposes. I believe that without a doubt, but I would disagree that it would qualify as "disgusting" behavior. I'm sure most of these canidates have skeletons in their closet that would rank high on the sleazy list.

0

tomhead1978 3 years, 7 months ago

After the election, the city should recommission the original artists to draw the mural again—same location, same design, permanent, and paid for by the city.

1

Turtleread 3 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Tomhead, I agree with you on this; however I would have it approved by a federal judge as a memorial to the late mayor so that in later races, other candidates cannot cry foul! I wonder why they just did not cover it up until the election was over?

1
comments powered by Disqus