County removes former state flags, retires them to Old Court House Museum
There was no pomp and circumstance. There was no ceremony.
Just hours after the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove the now-former Mississippi flag from all county buildings, meeting rooms and facilities, the flags started coming down.
By mid-afternoon Monday, most of the six former state flags that remained displayed, including one in the supervisors’ board room in the courthouse and one flying in front of the courthouse, were removed, folded and walked across the street to the Old Court House Museum, where they will be archived and preserved.
Bubba Bolm, the curator of the Old Court House Museum — itself a county facility which stopped flying the former state flag last Monday — said the flag that was displayed in the supervisors’ board room will be the one likely displayed in the museum moving forward.
The vote Monday by supervisors comes a week after state lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to retire the state flag which contained in its upper left corner an image of the Confederate battle flag. The legislation was then signed on June 30 by Gov. Tate Reeves in a ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.
Even though the legislation retired the state flag from public buildings, including public schools, the flag had remained flying in front of the county courthouse and displayed in the public library, in the board room, in front of the courthouse and in a number of courtrooms until Monday’s vote.
According to county attorney Blake Teller, there was no state statute that required the county to fly the flag, but supervisors felt it was important to hold a vote at their Monday meeting to adhere to the guidelines laid out in the legislation retiring the flag.
“I think the decision for this board ultimately was based on the HB 1796 requiring the dignified and respectful removal of the flag so you don’t just have anyone grabbing the flags from the county buildings and doing whatever with them. They are technically property of the county and need to be properly disposed of in a proper and orderly manner,” Teller said. “I think the prudent thing was to vote to do it for purposes of removal and disposal in a dignified and respectful manner, i.e. delivery of the county inventory of former state flags to the Old Court House Museum.”
District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson took exception to the comments some had made that the vote by supervisors was not necessary and merely a symbolic gesture.
“I want to be clear, I believe (the vote) was necessary from a statutory perspective,” Jackson said following the meeting. “I spoke to the head of governmental affairs for the Mississippi Association of Supervisors and I spoke to authors of House Bill 1796, legislators who actually wrote that bill, and all were in agreement that just like the county would have voted last month, or three years ago, to remove the flag, we needed to vote today. Similar to Gov. Tate Reeves’ orders around COVID, we still had to issue our own orders, still had to vote here on the county level. I believe it is within statute that Warren County had to have voted here locally in order to take it down, just like we would have to vote to put up any other flag. It wasn’t something that was symbolic.”
Despite the need to have the vote, Jackson said she was pleased the supervisors followed the lead of others in voting to remove the former flag.
“Everyone who voted for this measure, both locally, statewide and at the gubernatorial level, did what is right. And I reject the notion of violence against people who are trying to do what is right, I reject the notion of being fearful in trying to do what is right,” Jackson said. “I am extremely pleased Warren County, us as a board, decided to follow suit. I didn’t see any reason why our board would not want to go along with the will of the other legislators and honestly, the will of the majority of our citizens.
Following the vote, Jackson proposed the county fly the POW/MIA flag in place of a state flag. The idea — along with others that might be suggested — will be discussed during the board’s working meeting scheduled for July 13.