COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Columbus has joined the list of Mississippi cities no longer flying the state flag because the design includes a Confederate battle emblem.
The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to remove the state flag from municipal property, the Commercial Dispatch reported. Mayor Robert Smith, who requested the flag removal, said he would have no problem flying the state banner again if it's changed to a "unifying" design.
Several Mississippi cities, including Hattiesburg, Clarksdale, Grenada, and Magnolia, have folded the state flag since the June 17 massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, S.C.
Mississippi voters decided in a 2001 election to keep the flag the state has had since Reconstruction, but the Charleston slayings renewed debate about the display of Confederate symbols on public property.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1g6qIDP ) that local resident Mary Thomas asked the Tupelo City Council on Wednesday to also remove the flag from municipal property.
"The flag, with its not so subtle nod to our Confederate past, has no room in a city that prides itself on inclusiveness," Thomas said.
Tupelo council members said they might discuss the flag question during a meeting next month.
In Columbus, City Council member Charlie Box described himself as being in a "no-win" situation because some people in his ward support the current state flag and others want to change it. Box ultimately voted to remove the flag and said he wants lawmakers to choose a new design.
"I would hope that our actions tonight in lowering the flag will send a message throughout the state and the nation that we in Columbus do not support the present flag," Box said Tuesday.
Petal aldermen have voted to keep flying the Mississippi flag.
The Gulf Coast Business Council and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce in recent weeks have both endorsed removing the Confederate emblem from the state banner. The Mississippi flag has not flown at Jackson City Hall for years. The City Council unanimously adopted a resolution July 14 calling for a new design.
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