When a group of people in Mississippi, known as the Delta Flaggers, stood outside the state’s new civil rights museum waving Confederate battle flags and Mississippi state flags last weekend, a black Capitol police officer confronted them — and was then fired for it.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the Flaggers, who posted a video of their encounter on Facebook, wanted their picture taken in front of the museum with their flags in hand. The police officer approached them and ordered them to “get over there off the sidewalk.”
A woman’s voice in the video can be heard shouting, “It’s a public sidewalk!”
“People, people. Now, I’m going to tell you something. If you set foot on this grass, I’m going to have to throw you back out of here,” the officer responded.
“Ok,” the woman said.
At that point, the officer grabbed one man’s flagpole and, with a smile on his face, pretended to pull it away.
“That’s assault, that’s assault,” a man and woman in the video can be heard saying.
The officer, visibly frustrated, said, “Sir, did I put my hands on you? Thank you.”
“You hit him with that stick,” another man yelled, referring to the flagpole.
“You’re an asshole, you’re an asshole,” shouted the man holding the flag.
“You need to get back off the sidewalk,” the officer said, laughing. “Now, see, I can’t be nice to y’all.”
The altercation occurred in the midst of the state’s ongoing debate over its flag, which is the only state flag with a Confederate design incorporated into it. The Delta Flaggers, as well as several of Mississippi’s Republican lawmakers, believe the state should keep its current design.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the group protests outside state institutions that do not fly the state’s flag. Such institutions include the civil rights museum, the History of Mississippi Museum, and all of Mississippi’s major universities.
State Rep. Kathy Sykes (D) confirmed the officer’s firing on Tuesday, telling the Clarion-Ledger that she believes the decision to do so was “too drastic.” She added that, to black citizens of Mississippi, waving the Confederate flag around the civil rights museum is “almost like desecration.”