During the reignited debate on whether the state of Mississippi flag sends racist messages, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee signed an executive order on Tuesday to take down flags at its government properties.
A press conference was called for 11 a.m. that day in the City Hall rotunda, where Jimmy Walker, owner of Ford Lincoln Kia in Laurel, stood with an emotional Magee as the latter read and signed the order. At one point, the mayor paused for a full minute as he held back tears. The executive order, effective the day of signing, calls for the flags to be donated to the library or other places that will keep them for posterity.
“Whereas through the ages, these banners have themselves grown to exemplify the traits that define the very fabric of the society they represent and have served as a means to unify, rally the spirit and passion of the citizens to one voice and purpose of the state, all of which demonstrates the significance given to these flag emblems,” Magee read. “And whereas the current flag hovering above the State Capitol of the state of Mississippi was adopted as the state flag by the Mississippi Legislature in 1894, and the upper-left portion of this flag is often referred to as the Confederate battle flag.”
Magee went on to say the battle standard is a symbol of divisiveness and racial transgressions throughout the state’s history, “none of which represents the ideals and principles of our great nation, proud state and vibrant city.”
“There comes a point in time in the annals of history when it becomes necessary to redefine who a people are, and what a collection of these people represent,” Magee said. “It is the opinion of the mayor of this city that now is such a time.”
Employees of the City of Laurel removed the flag from outside City Hall immediately after Magee’s press conference.