Democrats rally at Biloxi church ahead of Senate runoff

While Democrat Mike Espy and Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith were preparing for their debate in Jackson on Tuesday night, a voter rally in Biloxi brought a mix of ages and races together at New Bethel MB Church.

“You’ve got a choice Mississippi,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber II, co-chairman Poor People’s Campaign and a civil rights activist.

Stop believing when the media says that Mississippi is red, Republican state, he told them. “No, Mississippi is your state,” he told the crowd, which stood and applauded as he asked them to grab a place in history.

“If we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now,” he said.

The runoff for a U.S. Senate seat is Nov. 27.

“It’s time for Mississippi to thunder,” he said. Of the 2.2 million residents eligible to vote in the state, he said 800,000 are unregistered to vote, and 45 percent of those who are registered did not vote.

“We ought to vote because of the unused power in Mississippi,” he said.

Before and during the rally, people spoke of the comments made by Hyde-Smith about a “public hanging.”

“I was really infuriated that she would make a statement like that,” said James Crowell, president of the Biloxi NAACP. “Even if she considered it a joke, it’s a bad joke,” he said.

Crowell said before Hyde-Smith’s comment the election was about the issues and not about race. Now all the commercials are attack ads by the parties.

“Both sides,” he said. “I don’t like that.”

Some of those in the audience talked about how they plan to be at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi when President Donald Trump arrives Monday to campaign for Hyde-Smith. The plan is to meet up outside the Coliseum and protest his visit, they said.