Council seeks new state flag, faces vote on flying current flag

The Biloxi City Council will not vote until May 23 on whether the city should fly the state flag at city facilities, but councilmembers did vote this evening to ask the state to replace the current state flag with a symbol that “can unite, rather than divide the citizens of Mississippi.”

Councilmembers addressed the two flag issues, which were added to the agenda at the outset of the meeting, after hearing emotional pleas from supporters of Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s decision to remove the state flag from poles at municipal buildings, and from those who favored Councilman Robert L. Deming’s proposed ordinance that would require the city to fly the state flag at city buildings in Biloxi.

Deming’s proposal, which is an ordinance and requires two readings before the council, could be voted on at the council meeting on May 23. Councilmembers would have to first vote against a measure by Councilmember Felix Gines to deny the proposed ordinance. Councilman Paul Tisdale seconded Gines’s motion, which was made immediately after Deming introduced his proposal.

In a vote after discussing whether to fly the state flag, councilmembers decided that the flag, with its Confederate Battle emblem in an upper corner, “invokes strong emotions by all who care deeply about this state, and is for many a reminder of slavery and the divisions that existed during the Civil War, and of divisions that persist.”

By a 4-3 vote – favored by Deming, Tisdale, Gines and Dixie Newman – councilmembers noted that the Confederate emblem “has been appropriated by many people and organizations who have no care or concern about Mississippi – its heritage, its culture or its people – and who use it as a self-serving symbol of a divisive agenda.”

A new flag, the Newman-introduced resolution stated, should be one that “represents the great spirit and garners the respect of all of Mississippi’s citizens.”

Councilmembers Kenny Glavan, George Lawrence and David Fayard opposed the measure asking for a new flag.

In another matter, councilmembers voted 5 to 2 – with Gines and Tisdale in the minority – to table an initiative by Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich to lease, at no cost, a former Biloxi school building in west Biloxi to possibly serve as a homeless assessment and coordination center. Councilmembers said they wanted more information on the proposal.
See photos from the meeting 
See the proposed ordinance to fly the flag 
See the approved resolution to change the flag