Supes deadlocked on state flag issue

James Carskadon
Staff Writer

The Mississippi flag will continue to fly over Oktibbeha County buildings after a vote to remove the flag ended in a 2-2 tie at the Board of Supervisors’ Monday meeting.
The motion to remove the flag was supported by District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams and District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, while District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller voted against it. District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard abstained from voting on the issue, but said he would be ready to make that decision by the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19.
Removal of the state flag was not on the agenda for the meeting, but came up when Oktibbeha County NAACP President Chris Taylor requested the supervisors to take action on the flag during the citizen comments period. Taylor approached the board prior to the August primaries and requested they take the flag down because of the Confederate battle emblem on the flag. However, Taylor and the board agreed to wait until after county elections to address the issue.
Taylor said he was disappointed in the board’s response to his request on Monday.
“I was asked by numerous board members prior to the election to hold off until after the election,” Taylor said. “I was asked personally. And now, you all don’t want to make a decision? From now on, I’m not going to wait on nothing else. No matter who asks.”
Action on the flag could come at the state level during the 2016 session of the Mississippi Legislature. Taylor said he wanted to send a message to legislators as they begin the session that Oktibbeha County and the city of Starkville are united in their desire to see the flag changed. The Starkville Board of Aldermen voted to remove the flag from city property in July.
Both Howard and Miller said they wanted the opportunity to gather more input before making a final decision on flying the flag on Oktibbeha County property.
“At the end of the day, people elect the board to make tough decisions,” Howard said after Monday’s meeting. “I’m not skirting tough decisions, I just think it warrants a more in-depth conversation, rather than just at the drop of the hat making a vote.”