Cop suspended amid rebel flag dispute at civil rights museum

An African-American police officer says he was fired, then rehired and suspended, after a verbal confrontation with people carrying Confederate-themed flags outside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 8:45 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An African-American police officer says he was fired, then rehired and suspended, after a verbal confrontation with people carrying Confederate-themed flags outside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Wardell Jackson told The Associated Press the confrontation happened Saturday, and that he was fired Monday from the Mississippi Capitol Police and re-hired Wednesday. He said he is suspended until the following Monday and is being moved from day shift at the museum to night shift inside the state Capitol.

Capitol Police protect state government buildings, including the museum that opened in December.

The Mississippi flag includes the Confederate battle emblem, and it has been the subject of intense public debate in recent years. Critics say they see the emblem as a racist symbol of slavery and segregation, while supporters say it represents Southern heritage.

Several people carrying the Mississippi flag and rebel flags were lining up behind the museum Saturday to participate in the Dixie National Rodeo parade, which made a loop through downtown Jackson. Most of the people with flags were white, but at least three were African-American.

Jackson said he tried to stop some from standing on a wall to take photos. Videos from that day show that Jackson repeatedly told people with flags that they could not block the driveway leading to the museum's parking garage.

"I was there to protect the property instead of letting people block the property," Jackson said Wednesday.

Steve Miller of Greenwood, Mississippi, was one of the flag supporters at the scene. He told AP in a separate interview Wednesday that flag supporters thought the officer was violating their civil rights by telling them to move off a public sidewalk by the museum.

"Our intentions were never to go protest the museum," Miller said. "The gentleman told them they could not take a picture on the sidewalk with the flag."

Jackson said paperwork he was given when he was fired Monday did not give a reason for the firing. However, he said the head of Capitol Police told him that his conduct Saturday was "unprofessional."

"I feel like I didn't do anything wrong," Jackson said.

Capitol Police would not discuss the case, referring all questions to the state Department of Finance and Administration, which handles hiring and firing. The department's spokeswoman, Chuck McIntosh, said he could not discuss a personnel matter.

Jackson said he was hired by Capitol Police in December, after working 21 years in other law enforcement jobs.

All eight of Mississippi's public universities and several cities and towns have stopped flying the state flag. Many of them have taken it down since the June 2015 massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. A white man who had posed in photos glorifying the rebel flag was sentenced to death in the fatal shootings, which authorities contend were racially motivated.

Many of the people carrying the state flag outside the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum are supporting a ballot initiative that would add the current flag design to the state constitution to make it harder for elected officials to remove the Confederate emblem from the banner, Miller said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
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