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: 500709

Reported Deaths: 9977
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34312538
DeSoto32080403
Hinds31924627
Jackson24482379
Rankin21983390
Lee15530235
Madison14574280
Jones13838242
Forrest13447251
Lauderdale11985316
Lowndes11030188
Lamar10508135
Pearl River9503237
Lafayette8547139
Hancock7728126
Washington7422157
Oktibbeha7142131
Monroe6769176
Warren6682176
Pontotoc6659102
Neshoba6635206
Panola6520131
Marshall6462134
Bolivar6313148
Union602494
Pike5817152
Alcorn5667101
Lincoln5433135
George496779
Scott472698
Tippah469081
Prentiss466881
Leflore4657144
Itawamba4633105
Adams4586119
Tate4584110
Copiah448592
Simpson4445116
Yazoo443987
Wayne439772
Covington428794
Sunflower4237105
Marion4225108
Coahoma4159104
Leake408288
Newton381679
Grenada3706108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359692
Attala331489
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay307976
Chickasaw299667
Clarke292494
Calhoun279346
Holmes267887
Smith263850
Yalobusha233747
Tallahatchie227151
Greene219048
Walthall218763
Lawrence212440
Perry205356
Amite205155
Webster202746
Noxubee186640
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171542
Carroll168838
Tunica159439
Benton148738
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132437
Humphreys129238
Franklin120028
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 817054

Reported Deaths: 15320
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1145501922
Mobile724601333
Madison52172694
Shelby37533348
Baldwin37192547
Tuscaloosa35044606
Montgomery34067734
Lee23195245
Calhoun22205476
Morgan20754376
Etowah19811497
Marshall18317302
Houston17345411
St. Clair15983339
Cullman15383292
Limestone15298198
Elmore15161284
Lauderdale14225294
Talladega13802276
DeKalb12622260
Walker11162369
Blount10162175
Autauga9954146
Jackson9844182
Coffee9195191
Dale8880185
Colbert8826201
Tallapoosa7071198
Escambia6764130
Covington6699183
Chilton6627161
Russell627959
Franklin5955105
Chambers5567142
Marion4982126
Dallas4936200
Clarke474583
Pike4722105
Geneva4566126
Winston4502103
Lawrence4296117
Bibb424086
Barbour356676
Marengo337789
Monroe331463
Randolph328763
Butler325696
Pickens315682
Henry311965
Hale311088
Cherokee301760
Fayette291879
Washington251351
Cleburne247360
Crenshaw244375
Clay241768
Macon232363
Lamar222047
Conecuh185853
Coosa179739
Lowndes174564
Wilcox167939
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132738
Greene126644
Choctaw88127
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