- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - The owners of six black-owned funeral homes have filed a lawsuit claiming Harrison County, the Board of Supervisors and Coroner Gary Hargrove discriminate by consistently sending bodies to two white-owned competitors.

Media outlets report plaintiff’s attorney Steve Art says he has obtained records from Harrison County showing that almost all of the county’s funeral-related funds for 20 years have been spent with local white-owned funeral homes. He says that although African-American funeral directors were equally positioned to provide services, Hargrove never used them.

Tim Holleman, attorney for the Board of Supervisors, says the county isn’t discriminating. He says when autopsies were needed, the pathologist, who died two years ago, decided which funeral home to use. All autopsies are now performed in Jackson.

In other cases, he says the county goes with funeral homes that can store bodies long enough to locate relatives, or families make arrangements.

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