BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - A group of protesters gathered around Bay St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday to oppose the removal a Bay-Waveland school board member.
On March 6, Mayor Mike Favre and the Bay St. Louis city council voted in educator Anne Lathrop, replacing incumbent Joan Thomas on the Bay-Waveland School Board.
Many in the community are upset by the decision, seeing it as a blatant disregard of diversity by the city.
"Our board of supervisors is all white, we have one person of color on the city council, and now, thanks to the mayor's appointment, we have no people of color on the school board, even though a third of our county is racially mixed. That's not right," said Patricia Wood Davis, a Bay St. Louis resident.
Mayor Mike Favre says his appointment of Lathrop had nothing to do with race, rather it's because he believes she's the most qualified person for the job. The mayor also stated he did not want to nominate Thomas for the school board seat due to her voting record.
Thomas admitted her position has clashed with fellow board member Casey Favre, the mayor's son. "His son voted for a workshop. I voted against it," said Thomas.
She believes that action influenced the mayor's decision, particularly on the issue of a move to consolidate the Bay-Waveland and Hancock County school districts.
"When you go into the council meetings, it seems like it's more autocratic then democratic," said Bay St. Louis resident Clementine Williams.
The protesters carried signs that called for justice, equality and equity, all while urging the city to consider proper representation in leadership positions.
Ward 3 Councilman Jeffrey Reed noted, "Just recently, Mr. Alfred Rankins Jr. was just appointed as the first African American over the 8 public universities in the state of Mississippi. Mississippi seems like its taking a step forward and Bay St. Louis is taking a step backwards."
He said he was happy to see people joining together to voice their opinions in a peaceful way. "I think this is great, this is the American way."
The Bay St. Louis city council approved Lathrop's appointment by a 5-2 vote after Councilman Reed's motion to not ratify the appointment failed.