The Horn Lake Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening rebuffed a request to release or ask for the resignation of its Animal Shelter Director. But leaders of the county National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) say they have not ended their efforts to end the city’s relationship with Pat Hissong.
The issue centers on Hissong’s reported Facebook post where she shared a conservativepost.com item about Black Lives Matter protesters staging a late night march through a Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The post said the protesters were shouting “Wake Up” through a megaphone as they marched through the neighborhood.
Hissong is said to have shared the post with the comment, “Can we just kill them please and be done with this stupid s****?” The post has since been deleted.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, DeSoto County NAACP president Robert Tipton Jr. called the post “unfortunate.”
“Especially in this social unrest environment, racism, police brutality and protesting that is going on now,” Tipton said. “It was unfortunate that she put out this statement. We find these words to be reprehensible, appalling, egregious, and threatening.”
Tipton said it is their position that Hissong resign or be removed from her position.
Hissong was given a five-day suspension for her post, but still retains her job as city animal shelter director.
Mayor Allen Latimer responded by saying, “It was very unfortunate what she did. This does not reflect the city of Horn Lake. But, after further discussion and review, the decision of the board stands.”
That ended the public discussion of the issue in the board meeting, but it was quickly followed by a motion by Alderman Jackie Bostick that Hissong be asked to resign immediately from her position. The motion was seconded by Alderwoman LaShonda Johnson, the only African-American and female member of the board.
The vote to ask for Hissong’s departure from her position failed on a 4-3 vote with Mayor Latimer casting the deciding vote against the motion. Board members Johnson, Charlie Roberts and John Jones Jr. were in attendance at City Hall for the vote. Bostick, Michael Guice, and Tommy Bledsoe took part in the meeting on a remote basis.
Johnson, Bostick, and Roberts voted for the motion. Bledsoe, Jones, and Guice were against it. The 3-3 tie meant Latimer had to cast the deciding vote on the issue. Alderman Donnie “Chigger” White was not in attendance and did not participate in the meeting.
After the meeting, Tipton and supporters said they expected the process to go about as it did, however they were encouraged that the issue actually brought out a public vote on Hissong as shelter director.
“We are happy they at least made a motion,” said Tipton. “At this point, we still have a lot of work to do. Her statement has brought on a lot of negative attention that this city, county, and state does not need.”
Tipton said his group still has several options available that include appealing to the state and possibly the national NAACP to put pressure on the city.
“The state (NAACP) has more tools and/or resources to use more than we as a local branch does,” Tipton said. “My hope is to escalate it up to the state and then have the state escalate it up to the national. Once the national gets involved, you do have all of the tools and resources to deal with this situation.”
Tipton surmised that Hissong’s Facebook post could ignite people with the same opinion to act and result in a harmful response.
It was also mentioned the NAACP could file a federal complaint against Hissong, claiming the post could inflame someone to kill and would be considered against the law.
Among other actions in the Horn Lake boardroom Tuesday night, local realtor Chad Engelke was sworn in as new Planning Commissioner representing the city’s Ward One.
Aldermen approved the bid from TNT Sound Inc. for a revamp of the audio and video system with the expectation of being able to livestream future board meetings, such as being done elsewhere in DeSoto County. For example, the City of Southaven streams its meetings live on its official website, as does the DeSoto County School District Board of Education. The work is not to exceed the bid of $25,108.99.
Horn Lake will celebrate the Christmas season with an official 30-foot Christmas tree to be purchased from Temple Display Ltd. at a cost of $21,000. The money will come from hotel/motel tax revenues. The lights will have a three-year warranty and the tree itself a six-year warranty.