Mississippi lawmakers drafting legislation to change state flag after race protests

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Lawmakers in Mississippi are drafting new legislation that would require the removal of the Confederate emblem from the state flag amid ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

The bipartisan legislation comes amid a torrent of calls for the historic battle emblem of a nation that has not existed for 155 years to finally be removed from the flag of the last state that flies it, Mississippi Today reports.

Also, calls to remove the emblem, which represents a slave-owning past to many, comes as Confederate images and symbols throughout the South have are once again under assault.

During weekend protests, vandals tore down a Confederate statue in Richmond, Va., while the state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, announced that the statue of Robert E. Lee in the city will be removed. A judge in Richmond has temporarily blocked the removal, however.

As for Mississippi’s flag, GOP Gov. Tate Reeves said that state residents “overwhelmingly” voted to keep the Confederate symbol in the flag in 2001. He added that he won’t take any action on his own to change the flag, WAPT in Jackson reported, according to Fox News.

“If and when Mississippians decide that they want to change the flag, and I think at some point they will, it ought to be the people of Mississippi,” Reeves said.

Mississippi residents voted 2-1 to keep the flag as-is in 2001.

However, now, about a dozen Republican and Democratic state lawmakers met on Monday to discuss changing the flag with Speaker of the State House Philip Gunn, a Republican, Mississippi Today said.

Gunn has supported the idea of altering the flag in the past and said this week he would be in favor of a suspension resolution to consider changes now if there were enough Republican support in the chamber.

Reports noted that two-thirds of the state House would have to vote in favor of suspending the rules in order to consider a resolution. If such a resolution were to pass, it would then move to the GOP-controlled Senate and, eventually, signed by Reeves if both chambers approve the alteration.

There is a new design already on tap.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who serves as president of the Senate, has said in the past he believes voters ought to decide the issue, not lawmakers. But a number of senators told Mississippi Today that he could be receptive to a legislature-initiated change instead.

The new design by artist Laurin Stennin is already an authorized vehicle tag, Fox News reported.

Mississippi Today said that dozens of bills are filed each year in the House and Senate, but that they have all died in committee.

Over the past decade, other southern states have also ditched the Confederate emblem. In 2015, following the murder of nine black parishioners in South Carolina, lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds. Then-Gov. Nikki Haley (R) was blasted by the Left over comments she made about the Confederate flag that were taken out of context.

“We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority that’s always going to be there. But people saw it as service and sacrifice and heritage. But once he did that, there was no way to overcome it,” she said at the time, referring to the white teen, Dylann Roof, who shot the parishioners.

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Jon Dougherty

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