- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi state flag will remain in the City of Tupelo.

Despite calls by some to remove the controversial flag from city property, the City Council approved a policy Tuesday saying that any city-owned facility with more than one flag pole must display Mississippi’s flag.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/2eezrSG ) reports the policy also states that at city facilities where just one flag pole is present, only the U.S. flag will fly.

The policy passed on a 5-2 vote. The council’s only two black members, Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis and Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings, cast the dissenting votes.

Under state law, municipalities and counties may choose whether to fly the state flag.

Other Mississippi cities and all but one public university have stopped flying the state flag in protest of the Confederate emblem the state flag contains. Regionally, cities such as Oxford, Starkville and Columbus have all stopped flying the state flag on municipal property.

Tupelo’s policy passed on a 5-2 vote. The council’s only two black members, Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis and Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings, cast the dissenting votes.

The new police headquarters is slated to soon open on Front Street and must fly the Mississippi flag on one of three poles in front of the building. The station is in a historically black neighborhood.

Lee County NAACP President Chris Traylor said raising the state flag over the city’s new police headquarters “is not going to sit well with the African American community.”

Jennings tried to amend the ordinance to exclude the police station but only he and Davis supported the amendment.

“To hang that flag in a historically black neighborhood is insulting,” Davis said.

However, Traylor expressed optimism that people on both sides of the debate can achieve mutual understanding through concerted dialogue.

Council members Lynn Bryan, Travis Beard, Buddy Palmer and Markel Whittington all indicated they personally want to see the design of the state’s flag changed. However, they all said they believe removal of the state flag from municipal property would be an inappropriate gesture.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Jason Shelton read a statement indicating disapproval of the council’s actions.

“Today, with this resolution, our city is missing an opportunity to lead in the state, to lead in economic development, to lead in unification,” Shelton said. “In the spirit of unity, I hope that this council, in the future, will consider a resolution requesting the state legislature to adopt a new flag.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com

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