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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: 307836

Reported Deaths: 7119
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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