TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – The Mississippi state flag has been taken down, again, at the Tupelo Police Department. This latest action follows an executive order from that city’s mayor.
As of Tuesday morning, Tupelo’s All America City flag was on display in front of Tupelo Police headquarters.
Mayor Jason Shelton says he issued the order, after getting complaints from residents in the neighborhood, which is more than 80 percent African American.
“The location of the police department is a significant factor,” Mayor Shelton said.
A city council order from two years ago says the state flag must fly at any municipal building with more than one flag pole. But to help ease any ill feelings about the Mississippi flag, the council agreed to fly the state’s bicentennial banner through 2017. At the start of the new year, the state flag was flying again.
Reaction was swift from those on both sides of the issue.
“It doesn’t make any sense, you know.?” said Bryant Hargroue, who is a member of the “Confederates United Patriots Society .” He says the Mississippi flag is about the state’s history, and it was approved by a referendum in 2001.
“It’s the state flag of Mississippi that was voted on by the people, it’s not something I said, we needed to have, or you said we needed to have, it was the majority vote of the people,” Hargroue said.
But Pastor Clarence Parks sees the issue differently.
“When I had encounters with the flag, it wasn’t good, it always was something racial,” Pastor Parks said.
He believes the time is long overdue for a new state flag and he is calling on legislators to take action.
“Mississippi has had such a bad history of racism, it would be such a statement to the United States and the world if our lawmakers in Jackson would get together and abolish that flag altogether,” Pastor Parks said.
Mayor Shelton said he knows any decision on the display of the current state flag will upset some people. The mayor is also calling on lawmakers to change the flag, and those who support the state flag vow to make their voices heard.
The Confederates United Patriot’s Society will hold a rally Saturday at noon at the Tupelo Police Department, supporting the current state flag. The Mayor’s executive order only affects the flags at the Tupelo Police Department.