Jackson County

Shea Dobson decided to fly the state flag over City Hall. Will he ever take it down?

Douglas Myatt tells the media outside the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday that it’s the mayor’s prerogative whether to fly the state flag in Ocean Springs and he can take it down.
Douglas Myatt tells the media outside the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday that it’s the mayor’s prerogative whether to fly the state flag in Ocean Springs and he can take it down. klnelson@sunherald.com

Douglas Myatt was nervous speaking in a public meeting Tuesday night and apologized to the Board of Aldermen, but he said felt strongly about the Mississippi flag now flying over City Hall and asked the city to take it down.

He said he considered Ocean Springs an inclusive city and that’s why he lives here. Last year he was able to marry the man he loves and he felt like things were looking up on the Coast as far as acceptance and personal rights.

But when Mayor Shea Dobson raised the state flag over City Hall, he saw that as a clear step backward.

Myatt said the Mississippi flag represents the views of straight, white, conservative people, and its original intent was to support white supremacy.

He said he feels the city is sending a message of hate, “when in reality, we love all our citizens and visitors.”

Dobson raised the state flag over City Hall the week he took office in July.

It caused a ruckus on the mayor’s Facebook page to the point that he took down a post on the issue.

On Tuesday night, Dobson said his decision to raise the flag was a vote for democracy, because that’s the flag the state voted on.

Dobson, 30, said he has called for another vote in the state for his generation, because he was too young to vote when the state decided on a flag that includes a version of the Confederate battle flag. He said the state flag has traditionally flown over the city’s police and fire departments, and he decided to fly it over City Hall.

Alderman Mike Impey said he was sympathetic for people when discussions about the flag got heated and hateful, “and wrong things were said, but no, we’re not sending a message of hate” by raising the flag.

“We continue to welcome everyone,” Impey said. He said the flag is a symbol and “people misuse symbols everyday for their cause.”

“It’s the flag of our state. I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s the flag of the state of Mississippi,” Impey said.

After the meeting, Myatt said he has heard from friends that Dobson is open to sitting down with people and listening to both sides of the issue, and he looks forward to a one-on-one with the mayor soon.

The flag issue may be complicated, but in Ocean Springs it’s simple, he said. By state law it’s the prerogative of the mayor, and he can take it down.

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