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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.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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