UPDATE – 10:40 p.m. Tuesday
TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – The Tupelo city council passed a policy Tuesday that will keep the Mississippi State flag flying on some government property.
Specifically, it applies to the soon-to-open police department headquarters, which is on the edge of a historically black neighborhood.
The policy passed 5-2 Tuesday. It ensures that the flag will be on one of three flag poles outside the police department. The flag will continue to fly at any location where there are at least two flag poles. The U.S. flag will occupy the other.
The councilmen did tell WCBI that that many of them are in favor a change to the actual flag. That would have to come through the state legislature.
More comments from the councilmen are in the video above. Below is a statement Tuesday from Mayor Jason Shelton:
“As a 7th generation Mississippian, I am proud to call our state and this great city Home. I regret, however, that we continue to struggle with the issue of our state flag.
It is beyond debate that the flag of the State of Mississippi is offensive to the overwhelming majority of more than a third of the population of our state. The mere fact that we continue to have this debate proves the divisiveness of our flag.
Our chamber of commerce and virtually every economic and professional organization has said the current flag is not good for economic development or business development in the State of Mississippi. Every major university and most trade groups have said the flag needs to be changed. The NCAA will not schedule certain events in the state because of the flag. Scores of state leaders have called for a new flag. Our CDF, which is consistently ranked in the Top 10 nationally, has called for a new flag since 2001.
Here in Tupelo, about 15 years ago, one of our greatest business leaders, Jack Reed Sr., sat on a commission with former Gov. William Winter to attempt to change the flag.
Today, with this resolution, our city is missing an opportunity to lead in the state; to lead in economic development, to lead in unification.
That a state flag will fly soon over a police headquarters on the edge of a historically African-American neighborhood and will be taken as an insult by a large portion of that community.
Saying that, it is the prerogative of the Council to set policy for the city. The property of the City of Tupelo is owned by the people of Tupelo who act through their council members who represent them.
It is the mayor’s duty as the chief executive officer to put into action the policy of the City Council, and to run the day-to-day operations of the city. This is how our city government is established by charter, and what is mandated by law.
It is my hope and my prayer we learn from this issue that divides us and come together in the future for meaningful change as our state leaders ponder their responses.
In the spirit of unity, I hope that this Council, in the future, will consider a resolution requesting the state Legislature to adopt a new flag, which is representative of all of our citizens.
As we all know, this issue will never go away.”