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A design to replace the Mississippi state flag featuring a mosquito in the center that was originally submitted as a joke only made it as a finalist due to a “typo,” according to selection officials.
Currently, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is in the process of narrowing down finalist options to replace the current state flag after the GOP-controlled state legislature passed a bill that was signed by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves to redesign the flag and remove a Confederate emblem.
The legislature and governor took action in response to race-related protests following the George Floyd incident in May.
Recently, the MDAH announced the flag finalists after nearly 3,000 potential redesigns were sent in. Commissioners narrowed the list to 147 designs August 10.
“In an internet-age situation reminiscent of the Boaty McBoatFace naming, one of the finalists that quickly drew viral attention and support was a joke flag that features a giant mosquito at the center,” The Hill reported Friday.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2020
Thomas Rosete, the Mississippi resident who designed and submitted the mosquito flag, told the Clarion-Ledger he did so as a joke to a co-worker who does not want the state to change the current flag design.
As a deckhand who works on the Yazoo River, Rosete said he’s intimately familiar with the state’s enormous mosquito population and said he thought putting one on the state flag would be a fitting tribute.
“I believe people from all backgrounds can get behind this and raise it proudly,” Rosete, 26, told the paper. “I said something like that in the (submission) email. And now I actually do believe that.”
He said he designed the flag in about five minutes.
“I’m a sucker for underdog stories and the Mosquito Flag was definitely the underdog going into the competition,” Rosete added, noting “that our state bird, unofficially, has to be the mosquito.”
“They’re everywhere,” he said. “They’re terrible. It’s their state. We’re just living in it.
The Associated Press reported further that many people who saw the design as a finalist after the MDAH posted it online with the others approved.
“Personally, I love the Mosquito Flag. … the cheekyness (sic) of it is on brand,” a Mississippi native wrote on Twitter, the AP reported.
“I’m slowly realizing my love for the mosquito flag might not even be ironic,” wrote another user, according to the AP. “It’s so bad it’s good. I would proudly fly the mosquito.”
However, supporters’ hopes were quashed last week after the MDAH commissioners noted that the ‘skeeter’ flag was never meant to be a finalist.
“The mosquito flag advanced to Round Two due to a typo in a list of flag numbers submitted by one commissioner,” said the agency in a statement. “That commissioner has requested that the flag be removed from the Round Two gallery, and MDAH staff has complied.”
After narrowing the design to five potentials on Friday, the commission said it would vote on a final design Sept. 2.
In 2001, the last time the issue was on the ballot, Mississippi residents voted 2-1 to keep the current design.
“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 in June.
But by month’s end, Tate announced on Twitter that the flag had become “divisive” and said he would sign legislation to change it.
“The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it. If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it,” he wrote.
The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it.
If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it. pic.twitter.com/bf3vyzuObt
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) June 27, 2020
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