Kali Sheik Akuno blamed Mayor Tony Yarber's election on record-breaking white and low black turnout at the polls lasts week. Yup. You read that correctly. Here are a few excerpts of Brother Akuno's comments.
Well, that's the essential question we have been studying since the election finished on the 22nd. And a couple of things clearly stood out. Number one, Antar won over 65 percent, 68 percent to be exact, of the black voter turnout. And normally in a city like Jackson, which is over 80 percent black, that would give you a landslide victory. But the black voter turnout was low. And we'll--going to--go into--I'll go into a few of my own explanations as to why.
But the other kind of flipside of that was there was a record white turnout for this particular election, and that was really the difference in terms of the sheer numbers. It was 75 percent of the white voting age population in the City of Jackson, (KF: Liar) those who registered, turned out to vote, and it looks like only about 35 to 40 percent of the black electorate turned out. Antar only won 10 percent of the white electorate. So that shifted the balance in the favor of now mayor Yarber significantly, who only won 32 percent of the black vote. So it was a very odd vote, but it spoke to the kind of times and conditions existing here in Jackson, Mississippi, and the campaign, really, of fear Tony Yarber ran on and some of the dirty tactics his campaign used to really try to paint Antar not only as a radical, but as someone who was going to turn the city's finances and budgets over to a number of unsavory characters, was kind of how it was portrayed. And this wasn't public, and we didn't get all this information until a little bit after the campaign was over, but that is basically how it stood. (KF note: Dirty tactics?)
DESVARIEUX: Let's go back to your first point, though, Kali. I want to ask you: why was black voter turnout--was so low? Why was it so low?
AKUNO: Well, the reason I think it was so low: number one, folks knew Chokwe Lumumba very well from all of his years of service in the community, you know, over 40 years of the Jackson community. So there's a tremendous amount of respect, understanding who he was, his character, what he stood for. He was tried over time. So people knew that. Antar being so young, being his son, people didn't know him just personally or know his reputation as well, and I think that hurt him a bit, particularly with the older voting population.
And then I think the other reason: there are some things that we need to look at that during our eight months in office, that I don't really think--and this is something we want to put out to others to learn from--I don't think we really came out as forcefully, as boldly as we could have and should have to represent black working-class interests here in the City of Jackson. That was always a part of our agenda, but unfortunately we did not have enough time in that eight months to fully unveil what that program was and what we intended it to be. And I think without really fully unveiling that in the midst of some of the water rate increases that our administration kind of put in place, which were--people have deemed them to be necessary, but they were not highly popular, and the 1 percent sales tax, which a lot of people in the community also understood to be necessary the resources I don't think we motivated enough people to understand that this was something that was fully in their interests as working-class people. And thus the voter turnout from that sector was lower than we needed it to be.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. You also mentioned Mayor Yarber and what he ran on. I want to ask you: what interests does he represent?
AKUNO: Yeah. What Yarber represents is a neoliberal agenda, agenda of gentrification, and the forces who sponsored and support him are largely those kind of capital interests here in the state of Mississippi, particularly in the surrounding greater Jackson metro area. They threw in very heavily for his campaign. Republicans from the Tea Party and throughout the state and throughout the country, we know, put a lot of money directly into his campaign and into political action committees to support ads, to support mailings. So he really benefited from some of the recent Supreme Court rulings that allow all this money to come in, you know, unfettered and really unregulated in any substantial way.
But his agenda is to basically remove the black working-class element of the City of Jackson, and it's being disguised in kind of popular rhetoric saying he wants to get tough on crime, that criminals, quote-unquote, need to move out of Jackson or there's a new day in Jackson. So he's really planning on locking a tremendous amount of black youth, both men and women, up, and he's very open and frank about that. And that's one of the primary ways by which you're going to ultimately, if he's successful, sweep out large sectors of the black working-class to make room for a more pliable population that wants to come in and exploit the resources that Jackson is going to be securing and spending over the next ten years.
DESVARIEUX: Kali, you mentioned that you guys going to be doing a bit of soul-searching after this loss. Why do you feel like you weren't effectively able to communicate with that black working-class population and make them understand that your agenda was in their best interests? Rest of interview
To think this guy once had the keys to the city. The title of this post is appropriate: Waaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!