Hancock County

Protesters rally against HB 1523, Confederate flag

BAY ST. LOUIS -- Tilley Newman, 8, had a choice Sunday.

She could go to a church festival or the No Hate in Our State rally in Bay St. Louis.

Tilley chose the rally, where close to 100 gathered at the foot of the U.S. 90 bridge.

They waved rainbow flags, held signs and chanted to protest the Confederate emblem on Mississippi's flag and a "religious freedom" bill that sanctions the right to refuse service to members of the LGBT community on religious or moral grounds.

"We want everyone to be equal because we're all made by God," Tilley told the Sun Herald as her mom, Lisa Newman of Pass Christian, looked on.

A number of groups organized the rally, which was followed by speeches and entertainment at a Unity Celebration held at the Longfellow Civic Center.

Lea Campbell of One Flag for All Mississippians said this was the fifth rally she has been involved in organizing. The rallies will continue, she said.

The groups want to see the Legislature remove the Confederate flag from the state's flag and repeal the "religious freedom" law, which is set to take effect July 1 unless a federal court challenge prevents it.