OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - The City of Ocean Springs made the move to be one of the first Coast cities to lower the state flag in regards to the historic vote in the legislature Sunday.
Mayor Shea Dobson took to social media Sunday to explain why now only the American flag flies outside of City Hall.
“Today the Mississippi Legislature votes to officially retire the 1894 state flag and put a new design on the ballot in November. By ordinance, the official state flag must fly at municipal buildings in Ocean Springs. Governor Reeves has indicated he will sign this bill, therefore I have ordered the retired 1894 flag removed from all municipal buildings,” Dobson said.
The state flag is flown in Ocean Springs because of a city ordinance that mandates it, Dobson previously told WLOX. In July 2017, shortly after taking office, Dobson made the decision to once again fly the state flag over city hall, saying it would fly as long as it remained the state’s official flag. Former city employees previously said they couldn’t recall the flag ever flying over City Hall until Dobson was elected.
In April 2018, a lawsuit was filed by Mississippi Rising Coalition President Lea Campbell, Jackson County NAACP President Curley Clark, and longtime resident Ronald Vincent. 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.”
Also in April 2018, multiple businesses and residents joined together to speak out against the state flag, printing bumper stickers that were placed on vehicles and businesses throughout the city.
On June 16, Gulfport made news when the city council voted to take down the state flag from city offices, which some say sparked the new initiative to redesign the Mississippi state flag.
“I am such a proud Mississippian today as I have always been,” Dobson also said on social media. “My desire to display that pride and display unity with our state was, and has always been, my desire when flying the state flag. I believe this goal will now be easier to achieve and I look forward to embracing all of the progress and work we have achieved as Mississippians, together.”
The new design for the state flag will be put to a public vote in the Nov. 3 election. To read House Bill 1796 in full, click HERE.