Less than a month after the Mobile City Council voted to remove the Confederate flag from the city’s seal, the Mobile County Commission is looking to possibly do the same with some of its properties and departments.
On Monday, July 27, the commission will vote on whether or not to remove the Third National Flag of the Confederacy from a historical display outside of Government Plaza in downtown Mobile.
Like Mobile’s seal, the historic display showcases the various flags of several governments Mobile existed under including French Louisiana, the Republic of Alabama, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America, Spain and the United States.The flag in question features elements of the controversial “battle flag” on a white field with a red stripe. Over the years, the battle flag itself has been displayed by white supremacists groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Recently, the display of the flag by several southern municipalities has been a controversial issue, due to its association with Dylann Roof, who was arrested for the murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, S.C. June 17.
In a discussion of the agenda item on Thursday morning, District 2 commissioner Connie Hudson suggested replacing the current flag with the first national flag of the Confederacy might be a fair compromise because it doesn’t hold the same racial connotations.
However, District 1 commissioner Merceria Ludgood, who proposed the item be placed on the agenda, made representation that the Confederacy was not a sovereign nation, and thus wasn’t historically accurate among the other flags in the display.
Mobile County Commission President Jerry Carl did not attend the regular conference meeting on Thursday but was willing to give a brief statement to Lagniappe later.
“I understand why it’s offensive to some people, but I don’t believe it’s right to change history,” Carl said. “I’d rather learn from it.”The added agenda items come only two weeks after county officials, including Ludgood, told members of the media the commission had no plans to remove the flag from the display at Government Plaza.
In addition to addressing the display at Government Plaza, the commission will also consider a resolution “requesting” the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office remove the flag from its deputies’ cars, which is painted on the outside of vehicles in a small depiction of the department’s badge.
Both motions were submitted to the agenda at the request of Ludgood, who declined to comment on the issue after a conference meeting on Thursday.
As for the MCSO, spokeswoman Lori Myles said the department and Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran wouldn’t be releasing a statement on the issue until the vote takes place and the request is clarified.
“We’ve not been formally sent any information from the commissioners, so we’ll probably wait until after the vote on Monday to comment,” Myles told Lagniappe. “We did have a representative at the meeting. However, we’ve not spoken to any commissioners and no one has convened this to us before now.”
Myles was able to confirm that the Confederate flag can been seen not only on deputies’ cars, but also on their individual badges and on the all of the departments marketing materials.
Nancy Johnson, Public Affairs/Community Services Director for Mobile County, said the commission had no intentions of funding or requiring the removal of the flag — emphasising that only a “request” was placed on the agenda.
According to Johnson, the Sheriff’s Office could handle the removal through attrition as cars and badges are replaced, similar to the way the City of Mobile is handling the removal of the flag on certain items.
The commission is expected to vote on both measures at its regularly scheduled meeting on July 27 at 10 a.m.