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Mississippi lawmakers pushing to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

A bipartisan group of Mississippi state lawmakers want to remove the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag and appear to have...

Posted: Jun 12, 2020 11:37 AM
Updated: Jun 12, 2020 11:40 AM

A bipartisan group of Mississippi state lawmakers want to remove the emblem of the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag and appear to have support from at least one powerful Republican lawmaker.

The push from state lawmakers was approved by Republican Speaker of the Mississippi House Philip Gunn during a closed-door meeting, state Rep. Robert Johnson told CNN.

"Everybody is on board with getting rid of the messages of segregation, and the old South, and the Civil War, except Mississippi," said Johnson, a Democrat.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in the process of wrangling votes for a resolution to allow changes to be made to the flag. All 45 Democratic members of the Mississippi House have signaled they will support that resolution. However, bipartisan support is needed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority.

The move comes following renewed efforts nationwide to remove memorials to the Confederacy as the nation grapples with the intertwined legacies of institutionalized racism and police brutality. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced he would remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but a judge has since blocked its removal. NASCAR declared Wednesday it is banning the Confederate flag at its races, and the US Navy and Marines have also moved to ban the Confederate battle flag from public display.

In protests throughout the country, statues of Confederate leaders and monuments to the Confederacy have been destroyed or defaced in recent days. Statues of Christopher Columbus have also been destroyed and defaced for his treatment of the Indigenous communities he encountered and for his role in the violent colonization at their expense.

President Donald Trump has been steadfast in his desire to see statues of Confederate leaders remain standing and on Wednesday used Twitter to oppose a push to remove Confederate commanders' names from American military bases.

The fight over the Confederate battle flag being included in the Mississippi state flag is not a new one.

Mississippi's flag has included the Confederate emblem -- a blue cross with 13 stars over a red background -- since 1894. Critics of the state flag say it's racist, while others believe it's a crucial part of the state's history. The last time the state considered changing the flag was in 2001. However, 65% of voters chose then to keep the flag with the Confederate symbol instead of switching to a flag with 20 white stars on a blue field to represent Mississippi's status as the 20th state.

Several cities and public universities, including the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, have ceased to fly the controversial state flag.

Mississippi state Rep. Christopher Bell, a Democrat who is spearheading the latest efforts to change the flag, said that he and Republican state Rep. Missy McGee formulated the idea together.

"It was basically (us) walking by each other in the hallway and we had started up the conversation, and we got to work in trying to form a small bipartisan group of folks to try to do a special resolution to change this flag," Bell said. CNN has reached out to Gunn and McGee for comment.

Johnson thinks that economic and social pressures have spurred Republicans lawmakers in this latest effort.

"I think they began to be embarrassed by it. It's affecting our economy," he added. "I think people are reticent about doing business with a state that continues to fly that flag."

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, told reporters Wednesday he would not support state lawmakers deciding to change the flag. He instead wants the people of Mississippi to have the final say.

"I believe that some point people will want to change the flag, but it should be done by a vote of the people, not by a vote of politicians doing a backroom deal in Jackson," Reeves said, referring to the state's capital city.

He added, "I believe that if we're going to have real change in our state, we've got to deal with the issue of the flag in such a way in which all Mississippians can come together at the end, rally around one another with whatever decision is made and work together to make a better Mississippi."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
Jackson14342251
Madison10692227
Lee10437179
Jones8746169
Forrest8210157
Lauderdale7561243
Lowndes6790150
Lamar669688
Lafayette6459124
Washington5516139
Pearl River4915149
Bolivar4909134
Oktibbeha478498
Panola4723112
Marshall4654106
Warren4640127
Pontotoc440473
Monroe4255137
Union425379
Neshoba4182180
Lincoln4098115
Hancock405088
Leflore3565125
Pike3530112
Tate349588
Alcorn343974
Sunflower343093
Adams333387
Scott331775
Yazoo331173
Simpson314890
Copiah313867
Itawamba310180
Coahoma308785
Tippah298868
Prentiss292963
Covington282483
Marion279580
Leake278475
Wayne270743
Grenada266388
George261651
Newton256664
Tishomingo236869
Winston235584
Jasper226148
Attala220873
Chickasaw216360
Stone210237
Holmes195674
Clay192254
Clarke182080
Tallahatchie181742
Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
Montgomery130944
Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
Benton104625
Claiborne104331
Kemper100729
Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 569131

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson831881584
Mobile45534855
Madison36714532
Tuscaloosa26717465
Shelby26527255
Montgomery25707624
Baldwin23668325
Lee16753181
Calhoun15107332
Morgan14916289
Etowah14637368
Marshall12786235
Houston11462292
Elmore10636217
St. Clair10500251
Limestone10468158
Cullman10236204
Lauderdale9968253
DeKalb9278191
Talladega8721187
Walker7581286
Autauga7402113
Jackson7263117
Blount7182139
Colbert6577142
Coffee6024131
Dale5307117
Russell465542
Chilton4630117
Covington4555125
Franklin442081
Tallapoosa4372157
Escambia419182
Chambers3842125
Dallas3687163
Clarke364262
Marion3378106
Pike324279
Lawrence3188101
Winston290772
Bibb279565
Geneva270983
Marengo258367
Barbour243161
Pickens239162
Butler235672
Hale231678
Fayette224364
Henry204845
Randolph194244
Cherokee193848
Monroe191841
Washington176239
Macon167252
Crenshaw163958
Clay162159
Cleburne159045
Lamar149438
Lowndes144254
Wilcox129131
Bullock125642
Conecuh118030
Coosa115829
Perry109728
Sumter108032
Greene97336
Choctaw63825
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