Battle Flag to Keep Flying

Security was tight outside the supervisors' boardroom. County deputies and Gulfport officers watched over the large crowd that couldn't get into the meeting. Inside, the NAACP reminded the supervisors that many of the citizens they represent don't want the Confederate battle flag flying on the beach.

"The symbol disrespects them, it denigrates them, it is objectionable. If you were just going to rely on good old fashioned Southern manners you would take it down," Nelson Rivers, NAACP Field Director told the board.

On the other side, Sons of Confederate Veterans member John French told the board that the majority of citizens want the flags to stay the way they are.

"You cannot make this thing right for one hundred percent of the people. It's not possible. As sad as it is it's just not gonna happen. You have to listen to the majority. 80 percent of Harrison County want to see our eight flags flying just as they are," says French.

But Supervisor William Martin argued that a flag on a tax supported public display should represent all people.

Martin says, "A flag that is devisive that brings us here today as we are that has taken us down to the beachfront as we've been in the last several demonstrations, that has brought in the David Dukes and other people that have appeared here in our county. All I'm sayin' is we should avoid that."

Martin moved to remove the battle flag from the beach, but the motion died when none of the other supervisors would support it. The discussion ended...but the NAACP says only for now.

"We'll be back, we'll be back everytime they meet and ask them to take it down," says Rivers.

The civil rights group says it will also stage protest marches and talk to merchants about their converns over the flag flying.

The NAACP also presented petitions with more than 2,500 signatures from registered voters who want the board to remove the flag from the beach display.