Mayor Jason Shelton has ordered the Mississippi state flag removed from the police department headquarters on Front Street and replaced by the city flag.
This executive order was announced by Shelton Tuesday morning with little advance notice and comes about a week after the state flag, with its controversial emblem of the Confederacy, was unfurled over the Tupelo Police Department headquarters for the first time.
An order approved on a racially divided 5-2 vote in 2016 ordered that the Mississippi state flag would fly on any municipal property with more than one flag pole. Shelton stated during a press conference Tuesday that the council’s previous decision was an order not an ordinance and is thus not binding on a new term.
Shelton’s move represents the most serious ideological rupture to occur between the Democratic mayor and the Republican majority on the City Council.
Shortly after the initial flag order was approved, the City Council amended it in advance of the new police department building’s imminent opening in December 2016. That amendment ordered that a banner celebrating the state’s bicentennial would fly over the Front Street police headquarters until Dec. 10, 2017.
Even so, Shelton’s administration delayed taking down the bicentennial banner and did not do so until the first of January, replacing it with the Mississippi state flag in accordance with the order.