The state of New Jersey has ordered the Mississippi state flag to be removed from a park overlooking the Statue of Liberty because of the Confederate imagery the flag contains, sparking a conflict between the states over the images contained in the flag.
As The Hill reported, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy ordered the flag to be removed and replaced by the American flag. The New Jersey park is adjacent to Ellis Island and the State of Liberty National Monument, and contains flags from all 50 states.
Murphy called the flag “reprehensible” and said the Confederate symbol “does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality.”
The Mississippi flag contains the Confederate battle emblem, the report noted, and has come under fire from groups looking to eliminate monuments of the Confederacy. Last year, a Republican candidate for attorney general in Mississippi even called for the Confederate imagery to be removed from the flag, The Hill noted.
But voters in Mississippi decided in a 2001 referendum to keep the state flag. Current Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said he was disappointed at New Jersey’s move.
“I’m disappointed in Gov. Murphy’s actions. As I have repeatedly said, the voters of Mississippi should decide what the state flag is or is not,” Bryant said.
New Jersey's governor: "The Confederate symbol displayed on the Mississippi state flag is reprehensible and does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality,"https://t.co/sPDSFMqHpc— Clarion Ledger (@clarionledger) April 26, 2019
The movement to remove Confederate symbols has gained considerable steam in recent years, with a number of Confederate statues coming down amid public outcry. Many spoke out after a mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white man who espoused racist beliefs and had many pictures of himself holding a Confederate flag. In the aftermath of the mass shooting, many states took action to remove the Confederate flag from public settings and monuments.
At the same time, many groups have pushed back against the movement to take down Confederate images, including some white nationalist groups. These groups organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 in protest of a movement to take down a Confederate statue in the city. The rally attracted a number of white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and led to widespread clashes, culminating with a counter-protester being killed when a white nationalist rallygoer drove his car through a crowd.
While the removal of the Mississippi flag from Liberty Park in New Jersey is seen as a largely symbolic gesture, it was still celebrated by many groups that support the removal of Confederate images and statues.