Police Jury candidates ask to stand on the shoulders of Sam Turner

Several Blacks will be asking voters to elect them to fill two vacant police jury seats for District F and D.

Many of them are probably unaware of the Black community’s fight to get Police Jury representation and what that means for African-Americans. When Sam Turner, in 1971, assigned his name to a lawsuit accusing the all-white police jury with racial discrimination, he shook the political foundations of the parish.

Turner, who ran a little grocery store in Booker T., claimed that the police jury’s all-white membership prohibited blacks from being members of the jury. At the time there were 19 members of the jury, with lines drawn in peculiar ways that even with 19 members, no blacks could be elected.

Turner won that suit, and the jury was reduced to six members. Two of the six districts could possibly elect black representatives.

Since that time, the Black representatives who began with Abe E. Pierce, III and Ervin “Peter” Turner, began setting a course for the jury that would ultimately be responsive to needs of the poor as well the general needs of the parish.

Those seeking election next month will be standing on Sam Turner’s shoulders, asking for a chance to address issues of concern to everyone, but adding the needs of poor people to the mix.

TRASH COLLECTION: The jury at present does not have a trash collection system, and it results in accumulations of trash in populated areas of the parish. The jury should begin consideration of parish-wide trash accumulation.

WATER AND SEWER: In the parish, residents are left to the mercy of private businesses for water and sewerage services. It has often resulted in poor water quality and high rates. As the parish population expands, provision of water and sewer services must be considered.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The jury should take advantage of the rapid growth in the unincorporated areas of the parish and begin plans for industrial parks and other inducements. Also, it should gradually set aside matching funds for grants to accomplish development projects.

TRANSPORTATION: As more areas of the parish populate such as in Swartz and North Monroe, there is a need for some semblance of public transportation through partnerships or other means. The growth in the parish is not in the city limits, but in the parish; public transportation will be a must.

PARTNERSHIPS WITH TOWNS: There are several towns in the parish that are small and lack resources. The jury should develop improved working relationships with Richwood, Sterlington, and Calhoun, all of which contribute to the life and well being of the parish.

PEA FARM SUPERVISION: The jury should revisit ordinances and laws that require incarceration for non-violent offenses. Some inmates are housed for years before they come to trial. The cost for housing non-violent, non-flight risk inmates is a burden on the jury that should be resolved. Also, the jury should work with the sheriff to insure that inmate work plans do not exploit inmate labor that creates a master/slave relationship.

COMPREHENSIVE FLOOD PLAN: The jury should expand on its flood prevention plans with an eye toward permanent solutions, including barriers, pumps, and canals. Funding from grants and other sources should be vigorously pursued.

There are many more concerns that should be explored by the Police Jury, so the public should listen carefully to Police Jury candidates to see what they see as issues and what solutions they offer.