Protesters burn Mississippi flag for 'symbolising racism'

Mimi Launder
Tuesday 19 June 2018 12:15
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Picture:(AP)

For some. the Mississippi state flag is a symbol of hatred, glorifying slavery and the systemic oppression of black people - and protestors claimed just that when they burned it this week in front of the governor's mansion.

The state flag is the last in the union to wave the Confederate battle emblem, and has done since 1894. In 2001, residents voted in a statewide election to keep the symbol in the flag, as a piece of history worth preserving - but the fight is far from over.

Now, demonstrators with the Poor People's Campaign are burning the flag in protest, as part of their fight to force communities to address poverty, which they feel is ignored and a "moral revival" needs to address.

Organiser Danyelle Holmes of Jackson believes lingering white supremacy is bound-up in all of Mississippi’s problems and said:

This flag needs to come down. This flag needs to burn. We’re burning the hate out of their hearts. We’re burning the hate out of our state.

Monday saw the climax of six weeks of demonstrations in Mississippi. Last week, for example, protesters built a cardboard shack symbolising homelessness with signs calling for better social services and health care for the poor.

Confederate symbols continue to be the subject of wide debate across the South - particularly since the racially motivated killings of nine African-American parishioners in 2015 at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The white man convicted in that case had posed in photos with the Confederate battle flag.

Debate spiked again after last year’s violent protests at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the aftermath, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn wrote on Facebook:

It is obvious that the Confederate battle emblem continues to be associated with attitudes of bigotry, hatred and racial superiority.

However, at the time, Republican Governor Phil Bryant said his position had not changed.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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