Court dismisses lawsuit against Ocean Springs over state flag

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A lawsuit against the City of Ocean Springs for its decision to fly the Mississippi state flag was just dismissed by the United States District Court.

District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr dismissed the lawsuit for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In May, the city filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit calling it "completely frivolous."

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that the city's display of the "racially demeaning and hostile state flag" violates the Fair Housing Act by expressing "a preference for white residents and a corresponding discouragement, and suppression, of African-American residents."

In his opinion, Judge Guirola wrote, "In order to be considered "aggrieved persons" who can file a private action under the FHA, the plaintiffs in the present case must be harmed, either directly or indirectly, by a discriminatory housing practice. The plaintiffs' Amended Complaint does not mention any 'discriminatory housing practice' or any actions related to the sale or rental of a dwelling. ... In the opinion of the Court, plaintiffs' allegations do not support a finding that they are 'aggrieved persons' under the provisions of the FHA. Thus, they do not have standing to bring a claim."

City leaders passed a resolution in November 2017 that made it mandatory for the flag be flown above public buildings, regardless of design.

The state flag of Mississippi, which features the Confederate battle emblem, has spurred some controversy on the Gulf Coast. During the summer of 2017, newly elected Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson rose the flag over city hall, where it had not been flown for several years under the previous administration. Since then, various groups for and against the flag have fought to make their points known.

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