Both U.S. Senators from Mississippi have come out in favor of taking down Mississippi’s state flag following a deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Among the marchers were members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were seen carrying the Mississippi state flag with the words “white knights” emblazoned on it.
“I hate to use a tragedy like this, a criminal act of murder, to advance policy,” U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R–Mississippi) began, speaking to the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership on Monday. “But certainly they have no right to be using our state flag as a symbol of white supremacy.”
“It would be more unifying if we put this Mississippi flag in a museum and replaced it with something that was more unifying. That is still my position,” Wicker added.
Wicker’s position is notable, given that he will likely be facing a Republican primary threat from Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel, a Republican Mississippi State Senator from Ellisville who nearly unseated longtime U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in 2014.
McDaniel has been notable for his steadfast support of symbols of the Confederacy, including Confederate monuments and the Confederate-emblem bearing state flag.
McDaniel called Wicker’s statement “unbelievable.”
“Roger Wicker is using the tragedy in Charlottesville to AGAIN stand with liberals and call for the removal of our state flag,” McDaniel wrote on Facebook. “Unbelievable.”
Roger Wicker is using the tragedy in Charlottesville to AGAIN stand with liberals and call for the removal of our state flag. Unbelievable.
Cochran also reiterated his position that the flag should be changed.
“It is my personal hope that the state government will consider changing the state flag,” Cochran said in a statement. “[We] should look for unity and not divisiveness in the symbols of our state.”
“Though it is not to say that everyone who flies Mississippi’s flag has feelings of hatred in their hearts, the confederate battle emblem is painful for many people,” Gunn wrote on Facebook. “It is obvious that the confederate battle emblem continues to be associated with attitudes of bigotry, hatred and racial superiority. I believe this association will only continue to increase, therefore providing more reason to disassociate with this flag. I want to see the flag changed.”
But Mississippi’s Governor, Phil Bryant, said he had not changed his mind.
“Those who practice the extremist ideals of neo-Nazism or white supremacy have no place in Mississippi. I condemn these groups in the strongest possible terms,” Bryant said. “Whatever the state flag is or is not should be decided by Mississippi voters.”