Protest Held at City Council Meeting

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

Protesters displayed signs of discontent at the Meridian City Council meeting Tuesday. They object to the forced retirement of Meridian's police chief and the hiring of another person from from out-of-town.

However, the city council approved the appointment of former Petal police chief, Lee Shelbourn, and the appointment of a new fire chief.

The controversy came from, according to concerned citizens, how Meridian police chief, Benny Dubose, who is black, was asked to resign, and the decision to hire another chief from out-of-town. Shelbourn is white.

Several members of the community protested inside the council chambers with signs. Dubose was the first black police chief in Meridian.

Shelbourn was approved on a 3-2 vote of the city council. Mary Perry and Jesse Palmer, Sr., who are black, voted against his confirmation. The other three, Bobby Smith, Barbara Henson, and Dr. George Thomas, who are white, voted to confirm Shelbourn.

The council also voted on a new fire chief, Anthony Clayton, a veteran of the Meridian Fire Department. Clayton is black and replaces Jeff Homan, who is white. The fire chief vote was unanimous.

As the new fire chief, Clayton said he's ready to go to work.

"I'm just fair, straight up. Do the job, show up for work, have a chance," said Clayton.

Shelbourn will assume his duties as chief of police Sept. 30. He said, no matter where you are, it's respecting the job of a police officer is what truly matters.

"We're a brotherhood. Whether you're a policeman in Meridian or a policeman in Petal, you're a brotherhood and you know you're in it," Shelbourn said.

After both appointees were approved, Ward 1 city councilman, Dr. George Thomas, asked each if they thought race was behind their selection.

"I see no race in it. Firefighting is firefighting," said Clayton. "I'm here because she felt like I was the best person."

"I treat everyone firm, fair, and consistently," said Shelbourn.

Both of the new appointees said they are just hoping Meridian gives them a chance to prove themselves.


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  • by Christopher w Stone Location: Meridian on Oct 10, 2009 at 12:35 AM
    Benny Dubose was asked to resign because he was not getting the job done not because he is Black. There are boys & girls standing on the streets every night selling crack in plan view. What has he done? Nothing. If the mayor & the city council were racist, & hired & fired people based on race they would not have replaced a white fire chief for a Black fire chief. Everyone always complains about the good ole boy system here in Meridian. The Mayor is finally standing up to the people who wish to stop Industry from coming to Meridian, so hourly wages want go up, & bringing in new blood that has no connections with the powerful people that have run Meridian in the past. It seems like every time a Black official is replaced someone immediately blames it on the color of a man’s skin.If people would stop and look at the facts they would realize that these changes are a step forward for Meridian.The theme of this decade is change. Embrace change,& if you don’t like it go to the polls and vote
  • by Loretta Bennett Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:55 PM
    To the person whom wrote this-(Here is a FACT; The new Fire Chief, Anthony Clayton, was arrested and convicted, for Poss. of Liquor with Intent to Sell without a Permit, in 1997. At this time he was a Captain on Meridian Fire Dept. This arrest was the result of an arrest warrant being served on a club/lounge, Clayton's Country Club, he operated in Lauderdale, MS. This warrant was issued after a purchase of liquor was made from Anthony Clayton. He plead guilty to this charge in Lauderdale Justice Court. Check the records at Justice Court and report the facts. Why are selective in what you report. Put the Facts out there for the public. I bet Mayor Berry doesn't know about the arrest and conviction.)Cheri knows about this matter..she will fire Anthony when the timing is right(you know how yall white ppls uses black ppls as a sheild)
  • by Michael Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:45 PM
    Loretta Bennett is running for the Mayor of Meridian in 2012
  • by Where's the beef Location: meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:45 PM
    The NAACP should be abolised, it is no different than the old White supremist groups. They want every appointed or elected official to be Black. Everyone black and white know that Dubose is the worst police chief ever. There is more DOPE in town now than ever before. Policeman can forge a Judge's signature and Dubose put him back on the force after a short suspension. This offense was a felony, he could and probably should have went to prison because of it. There is nothibg positive about the Police Department. We must pick people because of qualifications not race. john Robert picked Dubose to get Black support as Mayor. Ed Lynck picked Kent as Supt. of schools because he's Black. Qualifications didn't have anything to do with either of these appointments and our town and school system has suffered because of it. It Kent had any integrity he would have fired the CHEATING Principal that caused MPSD to drop in accrediation. He didn't because she's Black. Had she been WHITE she'd be fired
  • by Michelle Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:44 PM
    I think Loretta should run for Mayor of Meridian. She made herself known under this blog ha ha ha You have my vote Loretta!!
  • by Loretta Location: Meridian on Sep 20, 2009 at 04:38 PM
    I hate Cheri Barry and i dont care if you ppls doesnt like the idea of me hating that racist garden tool
  • by Emily on Sep 20, 2009 at 11:41 AM
    Rachel Alig is one3 of the most entertaining reporters ever!
  • by Give me a Break on Sep 17, 2009 at 01:32 PM
    No, I am not implying anything about AA's. I am coming right out and saying you can tell who are the IDIOTS, black or white!
  • by That Guy Location: Meridian on Sep 17, 2009 at 01:17 PM
    To Allen01 & Give me a break: I had an idea like that to offer a check or credit or what have you in exchange for defertization. Not just pointed towards AAs mind you but to all like the homeless, people on drugs, or any type of persons who has no ambition to be a productive part of a community. I know it sounds harsh but we are already paying welfair for there kids they can not take care of so why not.
  • by 4 REAL Location: Meridian on Sep 17, 2009 at 11:55 AM
    To Allen and Give Me A Break-How can you tell who is who on these blogs? Are you implying that all AAs speak ebonics and cannot write a well constructed sentence?
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