NPD directed to remove state flag from flagpole

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NATCHEZ — The state of Mississippi flag flew for a short stint last week at the Natchez Police Department — as a new flag pole addition — before city officials told the chief to lower the state’s symbol for good.

Police Chief Mike Mullins gave officers permission to raise the flag beneath the American flag at their request.

But Mullins said Mayor Jake Middleton, soon after, directed him to remove the flag by last Friday.

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“I was directed to take the flag down until the board will discuss whether to continue to fly the state flag,” Mullins said.

The flag was removed Friday, causing officers to question the city’s mandate.

Middleton said he has no problem flying the state flag on city buildings, but he believes the choice about what flags to fly on city properties should be uniform across the board.

“That’s the only reason it was taken down,” Middleton said. “I don’t think one building should fly (a certain flag) and the rest not.”

Middleton said the Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to remove the state flag from the Council Chambers years ago after some of the aldermen felt the flag might offend some people.

The state flag contains the confederate flag symbol in its corner.

Mullins pointed out, however, that the state flag flies in the Municipal Court Room and at a toll booth at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center — both are city properties.

Middleton said he believes it is Municipal Court Judge Jim Blough’s choice to decide what flags to fly in the courtroom. And since the visitor’s center is a state and federal agency as well as a city building, he does not believe the city needs to make the call for which flags should fly there.

Middleton said he does not plan to bring up the issue to the board of aldermen in the near future due to urgent issues such as the Mississippi River flooding. He said whether city buildings can fly the state flag might be addressed in the future if it remains an issue.