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Confederate Flag Divisive at U Southern Mississippi

August 16, 2017

Image of Aug. 13 protest shows a sign with the words "Black Lives Matter," as well as Confederate and Mississippi flags.The day after a woman was killed by a far-right protester who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., the Confederacy’s role in public life drew protesters and counterprotesters at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and on the University of Virginia’s campus was organized to protest the planned removal of a Confederate statue, and its crowd included white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In Hattiesburg, Miss., a local group of protesters have been gathering in front of the college, rallying against the removal of the Mississippi flag at USM.

The state flag incorporates the Confederate flag in its design, and it was removed from USM’s campuses after the racially motivated 2015 church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

On Sunday, however, with the Charlottesville rally fresh in their minds, a counterprotest was staged by students and locals, Deep South Daily reported.

“The Hattiesburg community has been troubled yet silent for too long in response to the USM Delta Flaggers’ weekly showcase of white supremacy on our campus,” Anna Beth Rowe, an organizer with the South Mississippi Democratic Socialists of America, told the news outlet. Heather Heyer was marching near the DSA group in Charlottesville when she was killed, according to ABC, and the organization has promoted a GoFundMe page for her family that was set up following Heyer's death.

The pro-flag protesters have reportedly been showing up to USM for 96 weeks, but Sunday proved to be a watershed moment for counterprotesters, although the Hattiesburg American reports that the protest draws people on both sides when it is held every Sunday.

“The act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville yesterday and the loss of our sister’s life led Democratic Socialists of America to hold solidarity vigils across the country Saturday evening,” Rowe said. “We held ours at the Confederate monument downtown and were led to organize the counterprotest today after moments of silent meditation on white supremacy nationally as well as its specific embodiment in the current state flag.”


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