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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: 98886

Reported Deaths: 2979
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
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