CLINTON, MISS–Protesters with No One Stands Alone (NOSA) gathered outside the Clinton City Hall Wednesday to call for more minority contracting and employment with Continental Tire, which has announced the expansion of operations to Hinds County.
The tire company released plans to hire 2,500 employees at an event at Clinton High School in February. The protesters with NOSA said of those employees, minorities should be given a fair shot at the jobs.
“In South Carolina, Continental Tire has a minority inclusion of less than two percent,” said NOSA Executive Director Antonio Pope. “And South Carolina is a sister state to Mississippi. So why would we think it will be any different here?”
Pope added that by protesting ahead of the tire company’s hiring process in the Magnolia state, NOSA supporters hope to raise awareness that minority contractors are available for all aspects of the Continental Tire project.
“They’ll need plumbers, electricians, steel erectors,” said Pope. “And we have minorities–not just African American men, but women, and Hispanics as well, who are entitled to a fair shot.”
Picketer at Clinton City Hall to picket against Continental Tire,saying there’s a lack of minorities involved pic.twitter.com/Y50gnhbCfd
— News Mississippi (@News_MS) July 13, 2016
Pope said that of the protesters, very few of them were contractors themselves, but he was contacted by contractors who supported the event.
“They are afraid of being blackballed,” Pope said. “They are afraid of not getting requests to bid on work, of their bids being overlooked, or proposals staying on a desk because they showed up here today. I don’t blame them. But I do commend them for announcing their support either way.”
None of the protesters would speak with the media.
Bishop C.L. Sparks of Dream Center Church of Jackson attended the protest, but did not join in with a picket.
“I am here today because this is great project,” said Sparks. “But I think sometimes protesting can be premature. They (Continental Tire) said you must go online and fill out saying what services you can do. If no one from the state, minorities, gets a contract, then we have a right to protest, before they even dump the dirt, we’d still have the right to protest because someone has to get the contracts. From my findings, nobody’s filled out the application yet. So how can you protest something.. you haven’t filled out the application?”
While the NOSA event was advertised as a gathering to urge minority inclusion in the employment process for Continental Tire, chants of “Black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace,” and “Mississippi is still burning” rang out among the crowd. One of the speakers at the protest outlined a couple of events that have been cited as motivation for the Black Lives Matter movement:
Prior to the demonstration, NOSA had to get a permit. Pope claimed he was not granted the services NOSA discussed with the city.
“We’re supposed to have a latrine, ambulance, and four police,” said Pope. He added that the permit fee was $500. Pope demanded a refund of the permit over the bullhorn.
“Chief Hayman, where’s my refund?” Pope chanted.
Chief Ford Hayman, who was named as chief of police in April, said the agreement did not provide logistical support.
“AMR(ambulance service) is here, as they have just pulled up,” said Hayman. “But they are a private company. We asked them to be here, but a call could prevent them from arriving. We discussed that we would not be providing the latrine as well.”
The police chief said that security was provided, given the recent violent events around the country.
“Just because you don’t see them,” said Hayman. “Just because you don’t see uniforms, and they’re not in a static location, doesn’t mean they’re not there.”
Construction on Continental Tire is scheduled to begin later this year, with production beginning in 2019.