State flag prayer vigil held at Biloxi City Hall - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

State flag prayer vigil held at Biloxi City Hall

While supporters of the Mississippi stage flag gathered around a flag pole ahead of Tuesday's Biloxi City Council meeting, another group opposed to flying the flag also rallied outside city hall. (Photo source: WLOX) While supporters of the Mississippi stage flag gathered around a flag pole ahead of Tuesday's Biloxi City Council meeting, another group opposed to flying the flag also rallied outside city hall. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

While supporters of the Mississippi stage flag gathered around a flag pole ahead of Tuesday's Biloxi City Council meeting, another group opposed to flying the flag also rallied outside city hall.

Bishop James Black from the Faith Tabernacle of Praise organized the event after attending the last city council meeting.

At that time, Councilman Robert Deming promised to propose an ordinance that would allow the state flag to once again fly outside city buildings after being removed by the mayor.

"Two weeks ago, I left the council meeting and realized we needed to do something," Bishop Black said. "Rather than take a public adversarial position to those who support the flag, we thought we'd come and pray."

Bishop Black said he and others who attended the service find the state flag divisive. Some say they want to see a new state flag that doesn't remind them of the mistreatment of certain groups.

"I think we should come up with a flag that doesn't divide people, that brings people together, and celebrates Mississippi in a positive light," Biloxi resident Gary Williams said. 

"Councilman Deming made what was, to us, a derogatory statement.  We knew then we had to do something to support the mayor," Bishop Black said. 

Mayor Gilich ordered the Mississippi state flag, which contains a Confederate battle symbol, removed from city buildings as a sign that Biloxi welcomes everyone. But many flag supporters see that as a sign of disrespect. 

Flag supporter and Biloxi resident Angie Lamey says, "What I'm concerned about is the abuse of the authority of the mayor."

"My main thing with this particular issue here on the flag is that the mayor went around everybody, the citizens, the 65-percent that voted in 2001 to keep the flag. It was sort of like a slap in face to them," state flag supporter Carol noted.

Bishop Black said he and his congregation feel their vigil served its purpose and they will continue to support the mayor's decision.

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