OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson, who made the decision to put the Mississippi state flag back up in front of city hall after taking office, weighed in on the explosive Charlottesville protests.
In a Monday Facebook post, Dobson said, "I condemn anyone who attempts to spread their hate by using the flag of our great state or this great nation."
Following the racially motivated and violent incidents in Virginia over the weekend, Ocean Springs resident Lea Campbell is asking the mayor to take proactive steps to prevent racial violence from happening in her city.
"In light of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, I did feel an urgency about bringing that up with the mayor today," Campbell said.
Campbell, who is also President of the Mississippi Rising Coalition, met with Mayor Shea Dobson on Monday and asked him to create an advisory council on diversity in the city. She said the council would give people of all walks of life a voice in front of the all white male board of aldermen and mayor.
"We want to make sure that those voices have a seat at the table and are included in the decision making processes of this city," Campbell said.
Virgil Dunbar has lived in Ocean Springs for more than 40 years. He said he doesn't have a problem with the state flag flying in front of city hall, but says it's important to listen to all sides of an issue. Dunbar saw first hand the positive impact of people with different opinions meeting together following Hurricane Katrina.
"It didn't matter then what color you were or what ethnicity you were or anything like that," Dunbar said. "Everybody was hurting and we all came to each others aid."
The protests that turned violent in Virginia have Campbell concerned for what could happen closer to home. The last few years since the state flag debate has heated up she's experienced an increase in negative comments towards her.
"I've seen the level of animosity and vitriol and the rhetoric directed towards those of us that are advocating for change really go up," Campbell said.
Mayor Dobson told WLOX that he's open to exploring the idea of creating a council on diversity.