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Some Mississippians not in favor of changing state flag

Some residents of Pearl River County are not happy that Mississippi’s flag is going to change without their voice being heard.

Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill on June 30 that will replace the Mississippi state flag, the last state flag in the nation to contain the Confederate battle emblem, with a new design that must not contain the emblem and must include the words “In God We Trust.” The bill was passed by the Legislature without first holding a vote by the public, such as the vote that was held back in 2001.

Now, a commission will be tasked with designing that new flag, which will be voted on by Mississippians in a yes or no vote in November, but not all Mississippians are in favor of the change.

Mike Lee, a member of the Gainesville Volunteers/Sons of Confederate Veterans, said, “We want our flag back.”

Mississippi House District 108 Representative Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes said paperwork is being filed by some Mississippi residents to get a referendum on the ballot for the statewide election in 2022. The referendum would allow residents to potentially vote to get the old state flag design back.

Wilkes said in a written statement to the Item that the petition for getting the referendum on the ballot would require 106,189 signatures with at least 21,237.8 signatures from each of the old five congressional districts.

“We now have four congressional districts, so we need to change that requirement to four congressional districts instead of five,” Wilkes wrote.

Wilkes said she has gathered the information for her constituents who contacted her and requested the information.

Lee said the members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are in favor of the petition.

“We are getting our troops together,” Lee said.

Lee said the Gainesville Volunteers/Sons of Confederate Veterans held a meeting last month at IHOP, and during the meeting, Picayune police officers responded to a complaint that the members of the organization were planning to throw bricks at nearby protesters. Lee said this claim was false.

“We didn’t even know there was any protesters over there at that point,” Lee said.

“We’re just practicing our constitutional rights,” Lee said.

Lee said he became a member of the organization so he can learn about and preserve his heritage.

“Every one of us in this organization are pillars of the community. All we want to do is preserve our history.”

Wilkes said Senator Chris McDaniel is directing his constituents to letmsvote.com, which is a website advocating for a ballot initiative that would allow Mississippians to vote regarding bringing back the old flag design.

“With the historic flag vote in Jackson, our legislators stole our voice from us,” the website states. “If you would like to volunteer to make sure Mississippi has a voice on deciding our state flag, please sign up today. We will begin the ballot initiative when we reach 5,000 volunteers. Mississippians deserve to have their say on this important issue. We want to vote! Let your voice be heard.”

“It’s politics and dirty politics,” Lee said. “We want our flag back.”