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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.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 812694

Reported Deaths: 15142
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139601904
Mobile721751321
Madison51923685
Shelby37240339
Baldwin37044538
Tuscaloosa34902599
Montgomery33919719
Lee23122240
Calhoun22125469
Morgan20620370
Etowah19739496
Marshall18238298
Houston17288405
St. Clair15897337
Cullman15297290
Limestone15178198
Elmore15038284
Lauderdale14125294
Talladega13692271
DeKalb12554258
Walker11069364
Blount10081174
Autauga9883146
Jackson9776177
Coffee9176188
Dale8856180
Colbert8781200
Tallapoosa7032195
Escambia6725127
Covington6672179
Chilton6580160
Russell624758
Franklin5927105
Chambers5558142
Marion4952126
Dallas4854199
Clarke472681
Pike4716105
Geneva4558126
Winston4461101
Lawrence4252117
Bibb421686
Barbour355374
Marengo333989
Monroe329962
Randolph324763
Butler323994
Pickens313581
Henry310565
Hale308787
Cherokee299457
Fayette290579
Washington250851
Cleburne245958
Crenshaw243375
Clay239767
Macon230662
Lamar215446
Conecuh185351
Coosa177738
Lowndes173161
Wilcox167038
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125544
Choctaw86627
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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