Opponents of the Mississippi state flag are planning their largest rally yet at the University of Southern Mississippi for Sunday, August 20. There, they’ll go up against pro-state flag protesters.
“We will stand in solidarity with the residents of Hattiesburg and USM students in their second counter-protest of the USM flaggers and their racist flags which have been flown for 94 Sundays in front of the front gates at USM,” the Mississippi Rising Coalition – one of the groups involved – wrote in its “Our Campus, Our Town” event description page. “We condemn all acts and symbols of white supremacy and continue to demand that the Confederate emblem be removed from the MS state flag.”
Black Lives Matter and South Mississippi Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) will also be present.
According to Facebook, both sides were in agreement on one thing: No violence.
“THIS IS A 100% NON-VIOLENT PROTEST,” the DSA wrote on its event page.
“We have reminded our people what is expected of them and what behaviors are not allowed in order to keep this a peaceful protest and we expect you to do the same,” Kimmi Craven, an organizer of the pro-state flag protest, wrote in a post to one of the opposing rally’s events. “There is no reason for this to turn into Charlottesville. Please be respectful and we will too. We are looking forward to this Sunday!”
Supporters of the state flag have protested at the entrance of the university ever since USM took down both its state flag and its university flag and hoisted up two additional Americans flags in 2015. The decision to remove the state flag was made after a neo-Confederate white supremacist gunned down 9 churchgoers in Charleston that summer.
Last Sunday, more than a dozen counter protesters showed up after a rally was hastily organized following the events in Charlottesville. This weekend’s counter protest is expected to be much bigger.
This will be the 95th week the pro-state flag protesters have protested on campus. Aside from a macing incident and a knife brandishing incident in recent weeks, the protests have remained peaceful.
Thirty people have confirmed plans to attend the pro-state flag protest, while more than 60 have confirmed plans to attend the protest against the state flag.
The protests are set to begin around 1 P.M. at the entrance to the University of Southern Mississippi. ACLU legal observers and campus police will be present.