Group Objects to Barry Appointments

A Meridian group is asking Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry to reconsider her choice for the new chief of police.

Barry will announce her picks to serve as Meridian police chief, as well as fire chief, during Tuesday's council meeting.

At a Monday news conference, the Meridian-Lauderdale County chapter of the NAACP and a newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is not directly affiliated with the NAACP, said the person who is expected to be appointed police chief is not qualified.

Barry has not yet confirmed her choice for police chief, but reliable sources revealed last week that it will be Lee Shelbourn, former chief of Petal, Miss., who was fired after a new mayor and board took office there this summer.

"He is a former police chief for the city of Petal, which has a population of 7,800, whereas Meridian has a population of 40,000," said spokesperson Melba Clark. "In Petal, the population is 93% white; in Meridian, it's 54% black. We are also concerned about the way he was dismissed. There was apparent collusion and lack of openness which Mayor Barry promised she would have in her administration. He was told to either retire or get fired and he retired and that's not being open."

"We want the mayor to know that in her campaign statement and promises that we were actually listening and we were not just there," said Milton Johnson, NAACP president. "And we want her to recognize that we as a community of citizens are diverse and if we work together we can reach a level of inclusiveness for all of Meridian."

Shelbourn is a former state trooper and a 30-year law enforcement veteran. He was chief of Petal from 2002-2009.

Last week, Barry said, "I'm looking for the best and the brightest. I'm not entering into the race factors. I'm looking for the best people that can help me run Meridian." She asked Chief Benny Dubose, who has been a career Meridian officer who was appointed chief by former mayor, John Robert Smith, to submit his resignation.

In terms of the alleged lack of openness, group members say this is becoming a pattern for Mayor Barry and they want something done about it. In an effort to get something done, the group is meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at Clark's Funeral Home to discuss the matter further.

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  • by Anonymous on Sep 17, 2009 at 07:56 PM
    Loretta, instead of spewing hatred and ignorance, and if you feel so strongly that she is a "closet" racist, why don't you pray for her? I will be praying for you so that you may experience some sort of divine enlightenment about the real world. You know, the one we all live in- black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. When you think it is funny when God is used as a punchline and a weapon to make someone angry, as you so stated regarding Tuesday night, I believe it is you that needs to question your value system.
  • by Lynette Location: Meridian on Sep 17, 2009 at 11:38 AM
    To Michael- I have a college degree- soon an advanced college degree (all of which I paid for myself w/o a handout from tax payers)and am a healthcare worker. Don't have any bedsheet that I wear on my head. Why is it you assume I'm a racist? I'm not by the way- just tired of hearing the same ole ___ for every situation. Is it because I comment on Loretta continuously spouting off racial accusations? I question what she does for a living because I can't imagine her being able to interact with anyone of another race without projecting her obvious hatred toward them. So I imagine she must do some type of job (if she works) that doesn't require her to interact with the public at all. Since to this date, she hasn't answered the question (and others have had the same question), I am betting she doesn't have a job and just sits on the porch stewing in her own self imposed beliefs that everyone is a racist that has "kept her down". Got any other questions?
  • by city gal Location: nearby on Sep 16, 2009 at 03:32 PM
    Loretta, I'm sure the 40% of the educated black community would consider it a favor if you would shut up. You are embarassing yourself and the other people of your race.
  • by Alvin Location: Clarke County on Sep 16, 2009 at 10:38 AM
    It truly concerns me that the white people in Meridian, MS fail to see what is as plan as the sheets that they wear on there backs, racism is alive and well in the Queen city. This fact has everything to do with how decisions are made by Meridians new mayor and the city council. It is a slap in the face of the people of the area when you use false campaign promises to get elected but fall back into your norm of the good old boy system when you get elected. I understand that there may have been a need for a change in those office but be fair about the selection process, and start at home. Meridian may not have been, but its citizens are worthy of respect and chance to become something more. With a population 54% black, of that 40% have education above high school, 25% hold four degrees, 12% hold masters, 5% hold terminal degress; you can't expect the public to believe there was no one in the area was qualified for any of her appointments but one black man.
  • by Loretta Bennett Location: Meridian on Sep 16, 2009 at 07:17 AM
    In Petal, the population is 93% white; in Meridian, it's 54% black" What does that have to do with anything? That prove that Lee Shellbourn dont like living around black peoples. Lee got his hands full before he even start his job. He's already wanting to fire all of the black peoples from the MPD.
  • by Michael Location: Meridian on Sep 16, 2009 at 07:00 AM
    To Lynette-Why would you ask Loretta Bennett what she do for a living? The question is...Why do you have a complaint against someone that do not agree with this racist mayor is doing to our town?But Since you want to question someone so badly,what do you do for a living besides wearing your favorite bed sheet over your head?
  • by Loretta Bennett Location: Meridian on Sep 16, 2009 at 06:56 AM
    To Lynette- Let's not put grammar in this matter at all. Lets face the facts that your MAYOR is a racist.I'm proud of what Rev Melvin Hudson said to her face Tuesday night. She need God worsters than anybody else on this earth.Did you see how her face turned so red? wow! I gotten a huge laugh at that. She have 4 years of pure hell ahead of her.
  • by ??? on Sep 16, 2009 at 06:45 AM
    Firefighter if you were calling me an idiot I didn't say any department head was under civil service. The Assistant Police Chief position which is what Jeff Lewis had is under civil service. The only reason she could touch him was because his probation period was not up. The "Special Advisor" position is not a department head position and should be a tested position. If you are a firefighter for the city then you know all about the testing procedure.
  • by Mary Location: Meridian on Sep 15, 2009 at 08:10 PM
    Meridian needs to be straightened out with the people, jobs and just overall economy. If someone ever moves to Meridian from somewhere else the problems with Meridian are evident. People-black and white- need to work together and stop tearing each other down. If Barry thinks these men would run the city in a professional manner then they need to be given the chance and respect to do their jobs. All the whining needs to STOP!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Firefighter on Sep 15, 2009 at 03:51 PM
    Dept heads are not under Civil Service idiot! think about stuff before you show your ignorance!
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