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Vicksburg’s reputation is getting shot up; Mayor Flaggs, lead, follow or get out of the way



editorial David Day

So far this year, Vicksburg, a city in crisis, has seen nine homicides, with shootings happening frequently.

Our youth are dying, and worse yet, actively killing each other for reasons my generation doesn’t understand. We used to fight with our fists, and when the fight was over, we would shake hands. However, that was a long time ago, and things have significantly changed since then.

The most notable change is the financial disparity. During the times of my generation, parents had jobs that provided enough income to cover all the bills, a vacation, healthcare, and even retirement. Today, people are working the same kind of jobs but for poverty wages that don’t even cover rent. It was once possible for an average person to find a decent job that paid enough to allow time for family to get together for dinner and the weekend. It gave you a sense of belonging.

Currently, parents are forced to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Consequently, their kids are being raised by the internet and the streets. Tragically, they’re killing each other over perceived slights. It’s been that way for a while. The problems in Vicksburg began, in my opinion, when Flaggs and Monsour worked to remove Walter Armstrong as the police chief.

Flaggs got his chief with Monsours help

Flaggs had attempted to remove Armstrong in 2013, but couldn’t get a second vote. In 2017, Mayor George Flaggs and Alderman Alex Monsour were able to remove him. We suffered petty crimes back then but it wasn’t that bad. In an editorial in 2017, the Vicksburg Daily News strongly advised, “The police department is not broken, quit trying to fix it, George.”

Well, with Monsour’s help, he fixed it. In an editorial in 2018, the blame was firmly placed on Monsour’s shoulders for allowing the change in Chief to happen. Monsour later explained to me he didn’t actually vote to remove Armstrong – some sort of political double-talk where the chicanery resulted in Armstrong no longer being the chief. In that editorial from 2018, we said, “It’s a year later and the perception of lawlessness in our community is rampant.  We’ve had how many murders in this period?  It is the highest number I can remember.  And two of those murders are unsolved? Holy cow. How far we’ve fallen in such a short time.”

It’s gotten worse.

Flaggs and Monsour were warned. They were directly told not to fix what was not broken. As far as I am concerned, George Flaggs and Alex Monsour, our crime problem is on you.

Could Armstrong have prevented all that? Who knows. What we do know is after he left, things went to hell.

In my opinion, Chief Penny Jones has pulled together a top-notch team, and they are trying to recover from the problems after Armstrong left in 2017. The cooperation between the city and county law enforcement is the best it has ever been since I’ve been here. However, undesirable elements invaded our city in the interim period between Armstrong and Jones, and now those bad actors are fighting it out and killings are becoming commonplace.

The prevalence of guns in our modern society means 15-year-olds are carrying and using them to fight their battles. Instead of learning restraint, they’re learning that the legal justice system has a different set of rules than the street.

Whatever the reason, mothers are burying their children as a result of violence in our little town.

Crime is crazy, let’s punish the taxpaying businesses

Mayor Flaggs’ program, which seeks to punish business owners for shootings that occur at their establishments, has been met with ceaseless skepticism and disdain from the community. My business was one such case. An individual came in and tried to stir up trouble. We expelled him, but he initiated more problems in the back parking lot. He retrieved a knife from his car. Another person drew his gun and aimed it at the man with the knife. The 64-year-old with a knife, despite having a gun pointed at him, charged at the 59-year-old with the gun. Not only did he bring a knife to a gunfight, but he also ran toward the gun.

Mayor Flaggs, no amount of case law or legislation from city officials is going to prevent this kind of foolishness or intent.

In 2019, Daryl Hollingsworth’s property was shut down after an incident that happened a couple of blocks away 30 minutes after his event ended. Hollingsworth said, “The mayor is grandstanding at me and my business’s expense.”

However, a shooting at What-A-Burger in October 2018 and another at KFC on Clay in April 2018 resulted in neither requiring a memorandum of understanding nor either of those businesses being closed.

LD’s went through a period of unrest and incidents but worked to address that problem. The situation seemed to improve once LD hired a lawyer to communicate with the city.

Punishing businesses didn’t fix the problem, who saw that coming?

Mayor Flaggs, playing politics and blaming others has not fixed a thing. Shootings have escalated, murders have soared, and our town is not safe.

Now, Jacque’s is under scrutiny for the incidents that have occurred there. In one incident, Chief Jones, much to Mayor Flaggs’ chagrin, stated that Jacque’s did everything right.

A business should do what it can to maintain a safe environment for its customers just like a city should do what it can to ensure a safe environment for its citizens.

Mayor Flaggs, it’s time to call in all the favors and big guns to solve this problem that you and Alex Monsour have created. Do it now while we still have a city.

If you can’t solve this problem that you and Monsour have created, then both of you need to step aside and let those who can solve it step in.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

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