State flag protest

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss (WTOK) - A protest was held Monday in front of Lauderdale County's courthouse. Organizers say the purpose was to call for the removal of the state flag that's in front of the building.

About a handful of supporters showed up for the rally.

"We know if Ole Miss took down the flag Meridian should take down the flag," says Sam Bell. He and Dennis Allen are the two organizers. They say their concern is with the confederate emblem that's on the state flag.

"For one thing we feel that it's unconstitutional," says Allen. "It's a relic from slavery. When the southern states and the northern states were in the Civil War, the southern states seceded, which is high treason, and we feel this flag should not represent our state."

"Every time there's a race war, or riot or anything takes place the Neo Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Brotherhood, they all fly this flag," says Bell.

On this day protesters say their primary focus is to get the state flag removed from the flag pole in front of the courthouse, but they also have their sights set on a monument that's on the lawn. It's a confederate monument that's in front of the courthouse. It was unveiled by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1912.

Despite the low turnout for Monday's rally, organizers say they are confident that they have much more support, which includes people of all races.

"A lot of people still have fear in their heart," says Allen. "It's a slave mentality I believe, which I can understand because at one time I was in their shoes, but with me being able to speak out, I'm going to speak out. When I say 'Power to the People,' I mean power to all people."

Organizers for the rally have approached elected officials in Meridian about removing the state flag from city hall. Mayor Percy Bland says the issue could come up at the council's meeting next week.