A federal complaint filed Monday says the Confederate cross on the Mississippi flag is hate speech that endangers African Americans, according to Carlos Moore, a black attorney from Grenada, Miss., who cited the killing last summer of black church-goers in South Carolina.
The government of Mississippi is preparing to defend their flag, however. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said voters should decide whether their flag should be redesigned, not a "frivolous attempt to use the federal court system." The state's attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, said his personal belief is that the flag hurts the state and it should change, but that will not prevent him from fulfilling his oath to defend his state's laws.
Although several Southern flags reference elements of the Confederate "Stars and Bars," Mississippi is the last state to keep the secessionist symbol in its entirety. While some Mississippians say flag the reflects poorly on the state's image, many see it as a symbol of loyalty to their often misunderstood, even maligned, state history.
"It is frustrating that the United States as a whole lumps us all as a bunch of ignorant racists who are uneducated and don't have shoes and go around having stereotypes about everybody else," Bess Averett, director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation in Vicksburg, Miss., told The Christian Science Monitor in 2006. "Hey, we have cars and trains like everyone else, so we could leave if we wanted."
In Mississippi, people are digging in their heels in support of both their "Rebel Flag" and self-determination.
A previous state referendum - in 2001 - showed voters supported keeping the Confederate symbol by nearly a 2 to 1 margin, with a fairly equal voting split coming even from black neighborhoods.
Where Mr. Moore sees "state-sanctioned hate speech," as he wrote in his lawsuit, Southerns see a symbol of their family's heritage, said Jeremy Gouge, a 44-year-old roofer, who has family ties to the South.
"I know there's things that happened. I can't control what other people have done," Mr. Gouge told the Associated Press. "What's the next flag that someone is going to say, 'We don't like that flag, let's take that one down?'"
A Louisiana man was arrested after a dispute over the sale of Confederate flags erupted on his property.
Virgil Rayford, 52, of Washington Parish, was charged Friday with a felony charge of aggravated assault with a firearm, his attorney, Buddy Spell, said.
According to Spell, Rayford was notified Friday afternoon that someone was trespassing on a vacant two-acre plot of land he owns. The individual was, according to Spell, not only trespassing on land owned by his client, who is African-American, but was also selling Confederate flags.
Rayford immediately drove to his property and discovered the vendor, a white male identified by New Orleans' WWL-TV as 37-year-old Matthew Barrentine, had erected a tent on his property. Spell said Rayford approached Barrentine and demanded that he "get the hell off my property." Barrentine allegedly challenged Rayford's claim of ownership and refused to leave the property.
Rayford said he was angered by Barrentine's refusal to leave and flipped over a table, spilling Confederate themed headbands and related merchandise. A pushing match ensued, after which Rayford claims Barrentine stormed off toward his vehicle.
So Rayford went to his vehicle and retrieved a .45 caliber handgun. "Once he saw the gun, he started getting more respectful," Rayford said.
"To the best of our understanding, Mr. Rayford struck him on the side of the head with a pistol, which is a felony, and therefore, we wound up arresting Mr. Rayford with aggravated assault with a firearm," Washington Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mike Haley told New Orleans' WDSU-TV.
Rayford, who was booked into the Washington Parish Jail and later released pursuant to a signature bond, denies assaulting Barrentine with a firearm. While he does acknowledge holding his gun in his hand, he said he did not point it at Barrentine or directly threaten him with it, his attorney said.
The district attorney's office has yet to comment on the case. Barrentine received a misdemeanor summons for criminal trespassing.
Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-30) of Alexandria determined he would fight this legislative clarification to existing law primarily because he is supporting the City of Alexandria in its attempts to remove the Confederate war memorial in that city. (For background, the City of Alexandria is currently engaged in a purge of all Confederate street names, school names and memorials.)
He was joined on the floor in his objection by Senator John S. Edwards (D-21) of Roanoke who brought up the Danville Confederate flag issue (which is not even impacted by this legislation). Also joining was Senator Donald McEachin (D-9) of Richmond and Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25) of Charlottesville. Senator McEachin reportedly seized on the Confederate statue imagery to draw analogies to the Danville court case. Deeds reportedly wanted to make it a local government issue.
Republican Whip Bill Stanley (R-20) of Franklin (son of a career naval officer) led the fight to support. He was joined on the floor by wounded warrior/Vietnam veteran Senator Richard H. Black (R-13) of Leesburg and Army veteran Senator Thomas A. Garrett (R-22) of Buckingham. Senator Garrett reportedly gave an outstanding speech and Senator Stanley was able to keep it focused. When the question was called the Senate Republicans prevailed 21 to 17.
These are the Democrats who voted against--Alexander, Barker, Dance, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Howell, Locke, Marsden, McEachin, McPike, Miller, Petersen, Saslaw, Surovell, Wexton.
The bill now goes to the Governor who has three options. He can sign it into law, ignore it and allow it to become law within 15 days or he can veto it. If he exercises the veto the bill goes back to the House for override. The House does not have a veto-proof GOP majority so it will need Democrat support for override.
There's misinformation floating around news reports and the general assembly. The press is calling it a 'Confederate monuments' bill rather than a 'war memorials' bill.  They further are stating the current law only protects monuments erected after 1998. That is not necessarily the case. The current law has never been tested in court so it has never been officially interpreted. In the Danville case, the judge said the law did not apply but also observed that, in his opinion, it could be read either way and suggested the General Assembly provide clarification. This legislative clarification was formally requested by a broad section of VFW, American Legion and AMVETS members. While they've always maintained it as a veterans issue and a veteran's bill, it impacts every 501(c)3 with a vested interest in erecting war memorials (i.e.; Daughters of the American Revolution and War of 1812 members have written in support of this legislation for example.)
CALL TO ACTION:
If Governor McAuliffe vetoes the bill, an override will be tough. We need EVERY citizen to contact the Governor's office and ask him to sign HB587 to protect Virginia's Veterans' Memorials. Keep it short and sweet and we suggest that you DO NOT MENTION ANYTHING CONFEDERATE. This is a veterans' bill supported by the VFW, AMVETS and American Legion and if it does not become law, ALL of Virginia's War Memorials and monuments may be unprotected. Please call the Governor's office at (804) 786-2211, AND email him using the link below.
Suggested script: "I am calling/writing to urge the Governor to honor Virginia's Veterans by signing HB587 into law to protect our Veterans' monuments and memorials." If you are a veteran, please mention that, as well, and forward this email to as many veterans and concerned citizens as possible.
Email the Governor here: https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/Communicating-with-the-governors-office
Governor Terry McAuliffe
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Confederate Memorial Park 10418 Easy HWY 92 Tampa 33610
Forward the Colours
Thank you Carrie for sharing this website:
VISIT THE DIXIE HERITAGE BOOKSTORE
VISIT OUR WEBSITE:
YES, we are still giving a FREE eBook (PDF) copy of the book The Truth About the Confederate Flag to everyone who visits the website - so tell your friends - and your enemies!
Until next week,