Ordinance gives the Ministry of Public Works the power to remove sneakers from power lines

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JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – In an effort to crack down on drug and gang-related activity, Jackson City Council has authorized Public Works to remove shoes suspended over power lines and other utility cables.

On Tuesday, the board approved an ordinance giving the department authority over a 6-1 vote.

The move comes after Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and other city officials said the issue could be addressed through other means.

“The best way to solve the problem is to go to the supplier and allow them to remove it,” said planning director Jordan Hillman.

“Planning and Development has worked on lighting projects and a number of things with Entergy and naturally the relationship is there to work on those things,” the mayor said.

Stokes disbelieved him, saying that if planning could fix the problem, they should have done so before his order was introduced.

“What we hope is for public works to be completed and removed more quickly,” he said. “It’s a sad comment in your town that you have gangs and drugs where people (throw) those tennis shoes (on utility lines).”

He pointed to a spot on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard where tennis shoes hang over a line near a daycare center. “We have young children there,” he said. “They know what it means.

“We cannot depend on someone else to eliminate a negative thing in our community more than we can rely on ourselves, which is the town of Jackson.”

It is not known whether the shoes represent gang activity or drug activity. Jackson Police Department officials were not immediately available for comment.

Councilor Ashby Foote, the only dissenting vote, asked how much it would cost to enforce the ordinance. He wondered if additional crews should be hired and if the job would be a better fit for Jackson’s fire department.

He proposed to change the amendment from Public Works to Jackson Fire, but the amendment failed.

Under the order, anyone can report tennis shoes through Jackson’s 311 call system.

The operator of 311 will distribute the call and the location of the shoes to the streets division of the Ministry of Public Works.

A team will then be dispatched to remove the shoes within seven days of receiving the incident.

Stokes said Public Works has the equipment, such as bucket trucks, to remove the shoes.

He said the shoes are rarely hooked to power lines, but to inferior utilities, such as cable lines.

The decree must now be signed by the mayor.

It was not clear whether the mayor would sign the measure.

The council approved the measure by a non-veto majority.

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