djr-2018-01-03-news-state-flagp1

Tupelo officials announced Thursday the intention to stop flying the Mississippi state flag at municipal property, replacing it with the City of Tupelo flag.

TUPELO • Mayor Jason Shelton’s administration announced on Thursday the intent of the City Council to remove the current Mississippi flag from municipal property until a new flag is approved, whenever that may be.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Shelton’s administration said that a majority of the current council members have requested that orders be drafted to remove the state flag from all locations where it currently flies, replacing it with the City of Tupelo flag.

Under current plans, the current state flag would be placed in a contextualized display at the Oren Dunn Museum, located in the city’s Ballard Park.

In a statement on Twitter Thursday, Shelton said there is unanimous support on the council for action to remove the flag. Of the seven-member council, six have previously voiced support for a new state flag that does not bear Confederate symbols.

However, as recently as last week, a majority of the council had told the Daily Journal they would continue to fly the current flag, despite their personal opposition to the flag. There are five Republicans and two Democrats on the council.

That position has prevailed on previous occasions the flag has surfaced before the Tupelo City Council as a source of controversy.

A 2018 arrangement did allow the state flag to come down at the city’s police headquarters, but the council approved an ordinance keeping it in place at all other municipal facilities where it was then flown.

In the last week, a push for a new flag has grown increasingly intense, with business leaders, higher education administrators, athletics figures, ministers and political notables like former Gov. Phil Bryant throwing support behind a new flag.

“I’m very, very happy with the council’s decision,” said Shelton. “I’m really proud that they did this.”

City attorney Ben Logan is drafting a revision to the ordinance, according to Shelton. The revisions will be considered at the next council meeting, which is currently scheduled for July 7. Shelton said there are no current plans for a special call meeting to consider the issue sooner.

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com

Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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