An African-American judge has received death threats for removing the Mississippi state flag from his courtroom. The banner, which contains the Confederate emblem, has been the source of fierce controversy in the Magnolia State.
On Aug. 24, Mississippi law enforcement officials disclosed that they were investigating several social media messages that threatened violence against Judge Carlos Moore of Clarksdale. Officials believe that the threats were in response to Moore's opposition to the Mississippi state flag, WREG reports.
On July 18, Moore ordered that the state flag be removed from his courtroom. It was his first decision after becoming the first African-American municipal judge in Clarksdale.
"It was ordered to never re-appear in my courtroom or chambers," Moore wrote on his official Facebook page. "It was such a great feeling to see the police officer drag the despicable flag from the courtroom during open court. Great first day!"
The Clarksdale judge blasted the flag for featuring the Confederate emblem, which he views as a symbol of "enslaving African-Americans as well as killing them and raping them."
"Most of the people that appear before me will be African-American and they need to feel that the courtroom is gonna be a place they can get justice," Moore told WATN. "That flag does not stand for justice."
Two men reportedly took to social media to threaten Moore for his decision.
"You're a piece of s**t I guess you need a bullet in the head," one suspect wrote.
Another suspect stated: "Your not untouchable you can't hide behind the court system or closed doors if I were you I would start checking my surroundings."
Assistant Clarksdale Police Chief Robbie Linley disclosed that his department was working with the social media website to track down the two users.
"Whether they are in our jurisdiction, whether they are a county judge, a city judge, a circuit judge... we take [threats] very serious," Linley said. "And we're going to do everything we can to prosecute anyone that makes any physical threats against those individuals."
There have been several attempts to remove the Confederate emblem from the Mississippi state flag. In 2001, Mississippi residents overwhelmingly voted against amending their flag in a referendum. State lawmakers have renewed efforts to create a new flag following a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus chair, Democratic state Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, has called on GOP Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi to hold a special session for lawmakers to consider legislation to replace the flag.
"Simply, there is no legislation that would do more to improve the image and economy of Mississippi than changing the flag," Williams-Barnes said in a statement, according to Fox News.
The proposal has gained traction among Republican lawmakers. The Mississippi House Speaker, GOP Rep. Philip Gunn, has voiced support for amending the flag.
In an official statement, Bryant asserted that he would only support changing the flag through another statewide referendum.
"My position has not changed," Bryant said. "Whatever the state flag is or is not should be decided by Mississippi voters."