Citizens at the Town Hall meeting said Tupelo must:

- Cut down on noise pollution, especially from loud music in automobiles.

- Crack down on able-bodied people parking in handicapped parking places

- Communicate better with the public about policies, decisions and results of initiatives.

- Investigate racial profiling and mistreatment of minorities from certain Tupelo Police officers.

- Post more prominent signage of Martin Luther King Boulevard - Highway 45 - in Tupelo.

HED: Residents air complaints at Tupelo forum

- At least three people urged the city to crack down on loud car stereos.

By Emily Le Coz

Daily Journal

TUPELO - Noise pollution, racial profiling and a lack of communication from the city topped the list of concerns brought by citizens at a Town Hall meeting at City Hall on Tuesday evening.

About 35 residents attended the one-hour gathering hosted by city leaders, who sought comments and ideas from community members and who responded to each remark with a justification about city policy or a commitment to do more.

City Council members also took turns promoting their pet projects, explaining their prior actions or chatting about their guiding principals.

Tupelo resident Suzy Owens lightly scolded council members for keeping citizens in the dark about municipal decisions. She requested more public meetings where residents could voice their concerns before leaders take action and reminded the council that they represented everybody, and not just one particular group.

Another resident, Jabari Bowdry, described an ordeal with Tupelo police officers two weeks ago during which he alleges having been mistreated during a traffic stop. Bowdry, who is black and said he doesn't believe in "playing the race card," nevertheless wondered aloud if his race had something to do with his being treated "worse than a dog."

Mayor Ed Neelly invited Bowdry to speak with him and police Maj. Anthony Hill after the meeting.

At least three residents urged city leaders to crack down on noise pollution, especially from passing motorists who play their music too loud. Neelly said it's difficult to catch violators because they either leave the vicinity before police can respond or they lower the volume when they see the police approaching.

Resident James Robinson asked police to better enforce handicap parking spaces. Robinson, who said he is handicapped, complained that too many able-bodied motorists park in places reserved for those who need close access to buildings.

Hall agreed and said the police department likely will give its senior citizen patrol the authority to write citations for such offenses in hopes to greatly reduce the practice. Neelly said able-bodied people "ought to be ashamed of themselves" for parking in those spots.

Between questions, council members made their own brief speeches. Doyce Deas, at large, promoted curbside recycling and asked residents to participate; Thomas Bonds, Ward 2, updated the crowd on his pet-control committee and said it soon would make recommendations on curbing stray and dangerous dogs.

Carolyn Mauldin, at-large, encouraged more citizens to attend council meetings; while Nettie Davis, Ward 4, and Bill Martin, Ward 5, both gave their support for the Veterans Memorial project and defended the city's $25,000 contribution to the effort, which at least one resident claimed was too little.

Contact Daily Journal city reporter Emily Le Coz at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

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