GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier city leaders have decided to let the Mississippi state flag fly above the Veterans Tribute Tower. A WLOX viewer noticed that the controversial flag had been replaced by the City of Gautier's flag Wednesday morning. Bill Whatley posted a picture on Facebook, and expressed his dismay at the decision in a phone call to WLOX.
We called a city council member who said City Manager Samantha Abell announced the change at Tuesday night's council meeting.
"I hold a duty of office to serve the mayor and council, who seek to represent our citizens fairly and equally," said Abell in a statement released by the city. "I will personally raise and lower the state flag however many times, per council's guidance. I will not direct any employee to lower the state flag, which is a personal symbol no matter the point of view."
Mayor Gordon Gollott had this to say about the situation:
I have heard from my brothers and sisters in the American Legion. And I will request that this issue be brought to a vote by the City Council. The City of Gautier is proud to be the home of the state's only Veterans' Tribute Tower. We were selected for this honor in 2012 by the Veterans Coalition of America, due to the number of veterans and memorials in and around our fair city. The American Legion, comprised of all veterans, has ceremoniously and proudly acted as stewards of this tower, providing the flags and keeping them in good condition. The City of Gautier is aware that the state flag has become a divisive symbol for some. We seek to be representative of all our citizens. However, this is the state's official flag and I hope my fellow councilmen will stand with me and my fellow American Legioneers.