Tension swirled around City Hall on Tuesday, beginning with advocates and opponents of the state flag taking sides during rallies at noon and continuing as a man was escorted from the City Council meeting at 6 p.m. during an outburst.
It was clear most of the standing-room-only crowd at the council meeting Tuesday night were interested in just one agenda item — would the council pass an ordinance requiring the state flag to be flown over city buildings?
Extra police officers had been posted throughout City Hall. Council President Dixie Newman frequently had to tell meeting attendees to stop being disrespectful and shouting out.
“There’s too much hatred in this room,” one man said during citizens’ comments.
Two additions had been made to Tuesday’s agenda. The first, introduced by Councilman Robert Deming III, would require the state flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem, to fly at city buildings, which would reverse the order last month by Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich to take the flags down. Deming has said, however, he does not approve of the flag.
Newman said she introduced the second, a resolution recommending the state legislature consider changing the flag. Then late in the evening, the council voted in favor of the resolution.
In a first reading of the proposed ordinance calling for the state flag to be flown on Biloxi buildings, Councilman Felix Gines made a motion to deny and Tisdale seconded it.
“I’m insulted by this resolution,” Gines said.
“This is just a first reading,” said Newman. An ordinance requires two readings in separate meetings. It will be voted on at the next meeting in two weeks, she said.
Tisdale noted state law doesn’t require the city to fly the Mississippi flag. He objected to the flag resolution being added to the agenda at the last minute — as he frequently does when a proposal is not essential for city business.
Earlier Tuesday, a prayer rally had taken place outside of City Hall in support of Gilich’s removal of the flagsDeming proposed the ordinance to fly the state flag, but said he does not approve of the flag and he voted to ask the state to change it.Deming proposed the ordinance to fly the state flag, but said he does not approve of the flag and he voted to ask the state to change it.. Protesters showed up, too, waving the state flag and wearing clothing with Confederate symbols.
Some brought state flags to the council meeting, while others held up “1 Flag for All” signs.
The council voted 5-2 to table a proposal to lease the empty Beauvoir Elementary School from the school district to use it as a homeless center and shelter.
Deming and Kenny Glavan said they want more information and to know how it will operate.
A workshop was scheduled for 11 a.m. May 23.
Comments from the meeting:
For taking the flag down
- “It takes guts to do what this mayor did.”
- “It’s a symbol of racism and hate.”
- “It’s time for Mississippi to be a state that’s going to stand up for people.”
- “Here we are, 123 years later, still dealing with the same issue — racism.”
For flying the flag
- “I have no problem with whatever the people of the state decide.”
- “You represent the people of Mississippi and in representing them you need to listen to what the people say.”