CLARKSDALE – On his first day as a municipal judge, Carlos Moore walked into the courtroom and said he noticed the Mississippi state flag behind the judge’s bench. He immediately had to take it down.

“It was not going to be behind my back and for the court to see, the citizens to see,” he told Mississippi Today in a telephone interview. “I don’t stand for white supremacy at all and so it had to go.”

The first African-American appointed as municipal court judge pro-tempore in this town’s history, Moore, an attorney with Tucker-Moore law firm in Grenada, said the flag will not be on display as long as he’s serving as a judge. He is one of the first judges in Mississippi to have the state flag removed from his courtroom.

State law requires the flag to be “displayed from all public buildings from sunrise to sunset”and “may be displayed from all public buildings twenty-four (24) hours a day if properly illuminated.”

“The state flag shall receive all of the respect and ceremonious etiquette given the American flag. Provided, however, nothing in this section shall be construed so as to affect the precedence given to the flag of the United States of America,” according to the state code.

The Mississippi state flag does not fly at Clarksdale City Hall. Currently, only the U.S. flag, the city flag and the state bicentennial banner flies at the building.

Chuck Espy, Clarksdale’s new mayor, appointed Moore as municipal judge pro tem in June and was sworn in last week. In that role, Moore presides over municipal court and handles criminal offenses and misdemeanor charges in the absence of Derek Hopson, whom Espy appointed chief judge.

A Confederate battle emblem in a corner of the flag has long sparked controversy, opponents of the flag believing the symbol is racist while many of its supporters say it represents the history of the state.

Moore said he was unaware of who placed the flag in Clarksdale’s municipal courtroom or how long it’s been there.

“I believe the flag has been there for as long as anyone can remember,” he said. He went on to say that when he is offended by something, he has to take a stand.

Espy was in attendance when Moore ordered the flag removed and applauded the judge for his act.

“It was a wonderful feeling,” Moore said. “I am so happy to be a part of the Clarksdale judiciary.”

Moore has had a long-running, high profile battle against the state flag.

In February 2016, Moore sued Gov. Phil Bryant, claiming that the state flag violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Moore said in his complaint the has caused him physical harm, including increased anxiety and stress.

A federal judge in Jackson dismissed Moore’s suit, but he has twice appealed. After a federal appeals court also rejected his claims, Moore’s attorneys wrote that under the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling “a city could adopt ‘White Supremacy Forever’ as its official motto; or a county could incorporate an image of white hooded figures and a noose hanging from a tree into its county seal; or a state could incorporate a Nazi swastika, as an endorsement of Aryan/white supremacy, in its state flag.”

Last month, Moore appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. October is the earliest that the Supreme Court will say whether it will take the case.

Now, Moore says he will balance his law practice with serving as a judge. Tuesdays are dedicated to serving on the bench whereas the other days of the week will be dedicated to practicing law.

He will also have to manage conflicts of interest. Moore said he will not practice law in Clarksdale municipal court, but he can practice in other areas around the state where he’s barred. Moore said he can’t handle criminal cases that come through Coahoma County.

The fact that he is the first African-American municipal judge pro tems in the town is surprising to Moore even though Clarksdale has an 80 percent African-American population.

“I’m glad it finally happened, and we’re on the right track,” Moore said.

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Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.

53 replies on “Black judge orders state flag removed from his courtroom”

    1. Then put it to a vote again. Let the voters decide. I bet you and other liberals would hate that, right?

        1. Fine. Then you support the right of the voters of Mississippi to decide the issue, correct?

          1. I don’t recall a vote back in 1894.

            You have every right to display a confederate flag. It just doesn’t belong on our state flag.

          2. April 17, 2001, the issue whether or not to change the state flag was put before the voters. The voters voted 2-1 to keep the current flag. It is a real shame you liberals do not have respect for democracy.

          3. April of 2001… so what. We elect a president every 4 years.

            The flag was adopted in 1894 without a vote & only after the 1890 constitution disenfranchised black Mississippians. No one is preventing you from displaying the confederate flag, so stop whining.

            You can stow the “liberal” nonsense. I’m not a liberal & I know plenty of conservative Mississippians who want it changed.

          4. There was no official state flag before 2001. There was a court case on it that said that. That is why they held a referendum on officially adopting it. It is the state flag until the voters of the state say otherwise. Why are you and other opponents so opposed to letting the voters decide? Anybody who wants to impose something on the populace without letting the populace decide is most decidedly a liberal.

          5. I’m well aware of the legal technicality relating to the flag. However, there was still no vote in 1894.

            It’s no accident the current flag was adopted in 1894, only 4 years after the white “redeemers” retook power in Mississippi after the end of reconstruction. They were sending a message to the freedman that their days of civil rights were over.

            Thanks for playing

          6. Regardless of what happened in 1894 and the reasons for it, the voters spoke loudly in 2001 and settled the issue. Again, why are you so opposed to populism and letting the voters who live and work under that flag decide if it stays or not? Who appointed you or anybody else as oligarch or dictator to decide for them? If the people in another referendum should choose to relegate the current flag to a museum and want another banner, I am fine with that. Why are you only fine with the choice of the people if they choose what you like?

          7. Mississippi voters supported a lottery back in 1992 and rejected the idiocy that was the personhood amendment in 2011. Didn’t stop lawmakers from signing multiple anti-abortion legislation and we still don’t have a state lottery. Tell me more about the “will of the people,” Mikey.

          8. You screech about the will of the people, but when presented with examples of instances when that will didn’t mean much you offer up deflection. Good try, though.

          9. The fact that the legislature bowed to the special interests instead of doing what the voters approved has nothing to do with the flag issue.

          10. Oh, but those are your magical republican besties whose farts smell like cinnabons. Their being frauds and hypocrites has plenty to do with the flag issue.

          11. They are not my Republicans. Neither party in MS represents the common working man. The GOP represents the rich and the big banks and you leftists and Democrats are beholden to the social left and the black vote. You do not care about the working man in MS any more than the GOP does. That is why the referendum process is so important. It is the only avenue for the average non rich, non black Mississippian to be heard.

          12. It is the left like you who hurl the racist term around. You also call us libertarians and populists homophobic, Islamophobic, alt-right, antisemitic, and a host of other foul names. Usually the one who hurls invective and does the name calling is the one losing the argument, just as you are.

          13. You’ve referred to me as liberal/leftists several time already with nothing to back up your assertion, so spare me your whining dramatics The flag isn’t a left/right issue as I’ve pointed out before.

            Go back and reread your post. You implied black Mississippians aren’t common working people in this state. “…Neither party in MS represents the common working man … Democrats are beholden to the social left and the black vote. You do not care about the working man in MS … That is why the referendum process is so important. It is the only avenue for the average non rich, non black Mississippian to be heard.”

            Thanks for playing

          14. Calling someone a liberal or leftist is pejorative now? Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton and many others, both black and white and Hispanic would disagree with you. However, calling someone racist and the other things you used are definitely pejorative.

            My statement about the common working man was referring to the average middle to lower economic class white person in Mississippi. The black population in Mississippi has a voice. It is called the Mississippi Democrat Party. The rich white gentry and business class in Mississippi has a voice. It is the Mississippi Republican Party. The middle to lower economic class white people in Mississippi have no political voice outside the referendum process. Now that may make you happy or not to say it out loud, but it is what it is. It is the same on the national level also. That is why Trump beat all the silk shirted Republicans and the Democrats. You can call them Deplorables, Reagan Democrats, Trump Democrats, or the average working man but it is all the same thing.

          15. I know plenty of Black Republicans and Independents, but go ahead and stereotype black folks.

          16. I know some black conservatives but you have to admit most black people identify with the Democrat Party and liberal government policies. If you deny that, you are just not being honest. BTW, the black conservatives I know agree with me on populism and the voters right to choose and then respecting that choice even if it not the one they want.

          17. If you can’t see the bigotry in your original statement, then far be it from me to explain it to you.

      1. Ah. I guess you’re saying that only a conservative would have the kind of mentality to proudly get behind a symbol of white superiority and oppression, right, Mike?

        1. No. Only conservatives and libertarians respect the voters and their choices. You leftists believe that you know better than the stupid deplorables and whine and complain that elections are stolen when they do not go your way.

          1. Is that why Mississippi conservatives and libertarians were totally fine with a financially-strapped state spending $300 million in subsidies for shopping malls? And a majority of those funds went to a contractor who just happen to be one of the governor’s biggest campaign donors.

            Conservatives be shopping, I guess.

          2. That has nothing at all to do with the flag issue. I would expect, though, for such a non sequitur from a liberal who does not believe in the people’s right to choose.

          3. Pointing out that your faves are hypocrites is a non-sequitur? Take a lap, Mike. I expect that, though, from backwards-thinking alleged conservatives.

          4. Faves? I think the Republican Party in Mississippi is led by a bunch of morons and crooks. Want to try again, antidemocratic lefty?

          5. “Conservatives and libertarians respect the voters and their choices.”

            *looks over Mississippi’s legislative and economic policies, 2012-present*

            Want to try again, anti-intellectual righty?

          6. When did I ever say the Republicans in Jackson were conservative or libertarian? They are not.

          7. Y’know, Mike, at some point you have to weigh the stated IMPORTANCE of your support against the thing you’re actually supporting. In this case, you’re throwing your support behind a flag widely used by racists and separatists to uplift their own tiny sense of self-importance at the expense of a people who were largely oppressed by those same racist types–for bloody centuries.
            You DO know the history of that wretched cloth, right?

          8. It is not about the flag. It IS about the right of the people to choose it. The fact that you do not like it does not give you a veto over the rights of the majority of voters especially where this does not impact your rights or others’ rights in any way whatsoever.

          9. Eh, yeah. There’s a white man for you. Unless it doesn’t offend him directly then it ain’t worth fixing. So if a majority of voters say it’s okay to barbecue toddlers you’re going with it, right?

          10. Apples and oranges and you know it. The state flag does not hurt a single human being. It may hurt your feelings but feelings are not something I care about. Now if you can show me a true injury you or any other person has incurred by that piece of cloth, I will hear it but feelings do not count.

          11. How could you possibly relate to that brand of injury? Like me, you’ve been a white man with a privileged position all your life. No state government’s ever tried to hoist a flag that historically says “F-you, degenerate”. No one’s ever been in a position to do that to you, your parents, or your grandparents, so you won’t get it. You don’t have the empathy for that. Sorry, man.

          12. And that is why your people will continue to fail. Instead of dealing with the real problems in the black community like drugs, crimes, gangs, single parenthood, etc, you focus on things like a piece of cloth.

          13. Oh, don’t ya worry about that, Mike. You’ll find that we’re totally gonna focus on lots of issues AND that bass-ackwards flag of yours.

  1. I am proud of Judge Moore for his stand. The confederate flag is recognized world wide as a white supremacist symbol. For instance, in Germany, nazis are not allowed by law to display the nazi flag. They frequently use the confederate flag to promote white supremacy at their rallies. I totally agree with Judge Moore and Otis, it is past time to change it. Peace, Just Sam

    1. This is not germany thank god its all most a refugee country and what is this white supremacy you people keep talking about just another excuse a way to blame someone else spend some time in a history book before lbj re did them that flag [WITCH IS THE FLAG OF NORTHERN VA } lead a lot of good men and boys into battle and a lot died for it with less than 10% of the south owning slaves with black slave owners too look up what Lincoln said about blacks it was a war on taxes and northern aggression

      1. Southern states seceded in opposition of state’s rights because some states opposed enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, meaning they weren’t keen on assisting the return of runaway slaves to slavery. The South wasn’t joined in a noble cause. There is no separate great heritage. It was about racism, brutality, tearing families apart and propping up an economy on the back of free, enforced labor. Stop pretending there’s something mythically great and massively misunderstood about the Confederacy. Confederate Southern leaders made their intentions QUITE clear.

  2. What I don’t understand is for the people who want to Revere a Confederate flag, removing it from the state flag will not change that.. it will not change anyone’s heart or sentimental value that one holds to it… removing that portion of the state state flag will not mean people still can’t fly it on their property or put the stickers on my car.etc… the fact is that there is a symbol on our state flag that is perceived literally by the entire world as a racist, hateful symbol, it always will..,that’s just a fact..The KKK destroyed that symbol and that’s also just an ugly fact…. they hijacked that symbol and it has been tarnished ever since… therefore it hinders the image of our state VERY badly, hinders Economic Development and is embarrassing ……I have nothing against the Confederate flag as its never offended me but it blows my mind at how offended people claim they’ll get if it were changed..They act like history is trying to be rewritten and if removed, they’ll personally not be allowed to fly it on their own property.. ,.It doesn’t make sense that some of the same people that have so much ‘pride’ for the state, and should, fight and fight for a cause that ultimately brings the state down on so many levels.

  3. This judge has now shown himself to be a racially biased social activist. Any white defendant should now ask him to recuse himself.

  4. “State law requires the flag to be “displayed from all public buildings from sunrise to sunset”and “may be displayed from all public buildings twenty-four (24) hours a day if properly illuminated.”

    The state of Mississippi has provoked all this by not vigorously prosecuting those who do not follow the law regarding the display of the state flag.

    This is what you get when you don’t enforce the law.

    Put this judge before a state review board and have him disbarred. Period.

  5. What’s amazing is that the so called “flagship” university (Old Miss) is so very silent on the subject. Old Miss should in fact be LEADING the charge for sunsetting this flag as historic, but unnecessary and a poor representation of the present citizenry of the State of Mississippi. But, the silence screams from the Oxford Plantation how bad they want to keep it. The University of Mississippi is the single biggest confederate monument in the whole country. It’s corrupt to the bone, and they will fight to keep it’s “Ole’ Miss” logo to the very end, because it’s their last little dig at those they wish to demean as beneath them, because they’ve accomplished little else in the last 30 years. Their delusion is “if you’re not better than ……….who are you better than?” We’re all little nothings to those who hail from and support Oxford. It’s embarrassing truly for the state by what they represent in their attitude.

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