PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Police are investigating a disturbing discovery in front of a home in Pascagoula, a burnt Mississippi state flag lying next to racial graffiti.
Bob Comans has lived in his home on Jackson Avenue for nine years, and said he always flies the Mississippi state flag next to the American flag. While police are investigating it as a case of vandalism, Comans said it's a crime that's connected to hate.
"I looked and just went into really a shock by seeing the flag like that being burned," said Comans.
Comans got emotional when he saw the charred and shredded remains of his Mississippi flag.
"I'm tore up. It just really disturbed me. That's the worst thing that could happen to a flag, get burned. I wouldn't want anybody to even walk on it," said Comans.
Comans said around 5:30 a.m. Monday, his daughter discovered the burnt banner and the words "Blacks Rule" spray painted in the driveway of their home on Jackson Avenue.
"It's a racist and a hate. If they're going to burn your flag, take your flag off the side of your house and burn it, why wouldn't that be hatred?" asked Comans.
While some people view the state flag, with its controversial Confederate battle emblem, as a symbol of racism, Comans said it represents family heritage. His great-grandfather served in the 12th Mississippi Cavalry during the Civil War.
"That's my flesh and blood. He fought for a cause back when he was there," said Comans.
Comans himself served in the Army during the Korean War, and said he fought for freedoms, like the right to fly the flag. He calls himself an old patriotic American.
"I'm 85 years of age. I'm a 100-percent disabled veteran. I don't know why they want to burn my flag," he said.
Several neighbors were just as shocked.
"We're all like family around here, so it's just crazy how something that like will happen to someone who doesn't do anything to no one in the neighborhood," said Willie Edwards, who lives across the street.
"I think whoever done it needs to be punished for something that stupid, because that ain't nothing but ignorance and something needs to happen to them," Edwards added.
While his flag has been destroyed, Comans said its days are not over yet.
"I may put this same old flag back up and let it flop in the air after it had been burned, so everybody can see," he said. "You can rest assured, it'll be flown."
Comans said he believes two teenage boys in the neighborhood are behind the vandalism. Police say they are following some leads, and those responsible will be charged with malicious mischief.