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Mississippi flag foes want court arguments on rebel symbol

Some Mississippi residents are asking a federal court of appeals to fully consider their arguments that the state flag with the Confederate battle emblem represents white supremacy and sends a message that black people are not welcome.

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 8:14 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Some Mississippi residents are asking a federal court of appeals to fully consider their arguments that the state flag with the Confederate battle emblem represents white supremacy and sends a message that black people are not welcome.

Several black and white residents of the Gulf Coast city of Ocean Springs filed papers Friday asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments.

The plaintiffs are trying to revive their lawsuit that a U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. dismissed June 19. He said the plaintiffs didn't prove they were treated unequally by the government.

Mississippi has used the same flag since 1894, with the Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner. People who voted in a statewide election in 2001 chose to keep the flag. But, several Mississippi cities and counties have stopped flying it in recent years amid criticism that the Confederate emblem is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation. Supporters of the flag say it represents history.

The lawsuit, filed in April, calls the Mississippi flag "racially demeaning and hostile." It claims that by flying the flag, majority-white Ocean Springs engages in "racial steering" to exclude black people, violating the federal Fair Housing Act.

"The City, by its voluntary decision to fly a symbol of white supremacy at City Hall and other City property, is intentionally expressing a preference for white people and 'steering' African-Americans away from Ocean Springs," plaintiffs' attorneys Carlos Moore and Michael T. Scott argue in the papers filed Friday.

They also wrote: "Unlawful racial steering can be accomplished in a variety of non-coercive ways, including as is the case here, through a symbolic expression of racial preference and hostility."

Ocean Springs didn't fly the flag for several years under a previous mayor. After a new mayor took office in July 2017, city officials returned the flag to some municipal buildings.

The Census Bureau says Ocean Springs has nearly 17,700 residents, and about 10 percent are black.

Representing the city of Ocean Springs, attorney Kevin M. Melchi said in court papers in May that the flag lawsuit is "completely frivolous and not brought in good faith, but only to harass, intimidate, and waste precious resources of the City."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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