Today, the Mississippi Rising Coalition, alongside three Coast residents, filed a lawsuit against the City of Ocean Springs decision to fly the Mississippi state flag on city municipal buildings. The plaintiffs and their lawyers held a news conference this afternoon at Ocean Springs City Hall to give more details on their suit.
Tnathan Fairley with Mississippi Rising Coalition said, “Under the flag more than 581 people of color or otherwise have been lynched. This flag represents hate. This flag represents all that is not about the diversity that this community represents.” For the last eight months, the Mississippi Rising Coalition has been protesting against the City of Ocean Springs decision to fly the Mississippi state flag. After failed attempts to capture city officials’ attention, the group has now decided to take legal action. Attorney Michael T. Scott said, “They can take the flag down and save themselves a lot of trouble and a lot of money, but that’s their decision to make at this point because we have filed the case and we are going forward with it.”
The lawsuit was filed at Gulfport Federal Courthouse and states that the flag is racially demeaning, hostile, and violates both the Fair Housing Act and the 14th Amendment. Mississippi Rising Coalition President Lea Campbell said, “The display of the state flag is a form of racial steering, sending messages to non-white persons and those of us who advocate for marginalized communities that are not welcomed or safe, it’s unlawful and it’s wrong.”
Campbell tells News 25 that part of the decision to sue the city comes after the emergence of two KKK videos that personally attacked her and other members of the community. Ocean Springs resident Steve Shepard said, “The message is clear to the alderman and the board now that if you like the KKK keep the flag up.”
The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit include Campbell, Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark, and Ronald Vincent, an African-American resident of Ocean Springs who has had family roots in the city since 1926. Attorney Carlos E. Moore said, “What is it going to take for Mississippi to get our act together? If South Carolina can do it, surely we can too. Since they won’t voluntarily do it, we have filed this lawsuit.”