Woman Upset That Alderman Took Rebel Flag Down Off Of Grave - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Woman Upset That Alderman Took Rebel Flag Down Off Of Grave

Becky Palmisano has replaced the rebel flag she says was stolen from her husband's grave site at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Poplarville. She says her husband, a biker, loved his Harley, eagles and the rebel flag.

It's a tradition, that all fallen bikers, they all have rebel flags on their graves.

"We put a rebel flag up for his birthday. I came one day to check on his grave, and the flag was stolen. The pole was bent all up and left there," Palmisano said.

She says she assumed teenage vandals took the flag, and then filed a police report. She says she was surprised when police told her the next day that it wasn't vandals, but City Alderman Sonny Knight who had taken the flag down.

Alderman Knight declined an on camera interview but told WLOX NEWS that he received four complaints, all from white families with relatives buried in the city-owned cemetery. The relatives told Knight the rebel flag offended them.

After consulting the city attorney, Knight says he took the flag down. He said the people who complained to him about the flag were concerned that the flag looked as if it was flying over their loved ones grave sites.

"I wouldn't think that. It's right directly on that grave. I wouldn't think it was for anyone else," Palmisano said.

She questions why nothing is being said about a nearby headstone with an eagle and rebel flag painted on it. Palmisano says what really upsetting to her is the way she says Knight and other city leaders handled the situation.

"He showed it very clearly that he didn't care, and it was 'So what, you got your flag back up. What else do you want?', and it really made me angry."

"I was contacted by the Pearl River County Justice Court in reference to two warrants being issued against Mr. Sonny Knight, " Pearl River County Sheriff Joe Stuart said. "One was for malicious mischief; the other was for petty larceny. I called Mr. Knight, and he came up to my office. I gave him a copy of the complaint, and he was released on his own recognizance."

Knight and several other City Aldermen say they apologized to Palmisano for the misunderstanding and don't know why she took the problem to police.

The maximum penalty for petty larceny is up to a $1,000 fine and or six months in jail. Malicious mischief carries a maximum of up to two times the value of the damaged property or a year behind bars.

By Al Showers

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