Biloxi's police chief reaffirmed what he said last week -- that parading down busy Highway 90, from Edgewater Mall to the eight flags display, poses too many problems.
Chief Bruce Dunagan says "In the middle of summer, there's heavy traffic. We definitely have to close the highway and divert traffic off the highway". That's why Chief Dunagan denied the NAACP's request for a parade permit.
So, local leaders of the organization turned to Biloxi City Council members, asking them to reconsider. Felicia Dunn-Burkes says "We're talking about a 20-to-30 minute at most walk. It's less than half a mile. We don't believe the reasons to deny the permit are legitimate or justifiable, given that this is the first amendment issue". Dunn-Burkes also wants city leaders to make sure they complied with constitutional law.
Other supporters say it's not just a matter of civil rights, but human rights. David Carver says "I appeal to you, though it may not be popular, though it may not be politically correct, that it is the right thing to do".
But Council President Jim Compton says city ordinance does not allow them to change the police chief's decision. Compton says "We simply cannot close down highway 90, because we got to have some traffic safety issues. We'll work with them and do what we can, but it's not within our authority as a city council to override the police chief".
Chief Dunagan says he has offered to work with the group on other routes, like the boardwalk. Biloxi NAACP President James Crowell says the boardwalk may be the best alternative. But he still needs approval from his organization's state and regional leaders, and the Harrison County Sand Beach Department.
This is not the first time the city of Biloxi has denied a parade permit. Just two weeks ago, Chief Dunagan turned down a request by the Isle of Capri Casino to parade down Highway 90. And six years ago, the city denied a request by the Ku Klux Klan to march along the highway.
By: Trang Pham-Bui
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