TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi flag with the Confederate battle emblem won’t fly outside the new Tupelo Police Department building — at least for a year.
The city council voted to fly a state bicentennial banner rather than the state flag from this December until next, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2gKtb6T ).
The building is in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. The two black members of the city council objected to the state flag being displayed there. But earlier in November, the council voted 5-2, along racial lines, to require the state flag to fly at city buildings with multiple poles.
Mississippi’s bicentennial is in 2017. The banner has blue, white and red horizontal stripes with the state seal in the center. “Established 1817” is written on the left side and “2017 bicentennial” is on the right.
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The bicentennial banner was unveiled in late October at an event hosted by the state chamber of commerce, the Mississippi Economic Council event. It has also replaced the state flag on the Delta State University campus.
Several Mississippi cities and counties, and all eight of its public universities, have stopped flying the state flag amid criticism that the Confederate battle emblem is a divisive reminder of slavery and segregation, but the changes have angered flag supporters who say it represents heritage. Many furled the flag after the June 2015 slayings of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The white man charged in the slayings had previously posed for photos holding a Confederate battle flag.
Both the Tupelo City Council’s black members voted Tuesday to fly the bicentennial banner at police headquarters, but said they oppose flying the Mississippi flag there later.
“I don’t feel I can ever support the state flag going up in Tupelo because it is divisive and insulting to me as a citizen,” said Councilwoman Nettie Davis.
Other council members praised the two-step plan.
“I think this would show we’re willing to compromise, and we’re not as bad as some people think we are,” Councilman Buddy Palmer said.
Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com