The Democratic governor of New Jersey has ordered the removal of the Mississippi state flag from a national park overlooking the Statue of Liberty because it features a confederate emblem. An American flag will take its place after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy determined that Mississippi’s state flag raises concerns over the confederate emblem. In a released statement, Murphy said, “The Confederate symbol displayed on the Mississippi state flag is reprehensible and does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality.”
Symbols of the Confederacy have been a hotly debated topic throughout the United States, resulting in monuments memorializing Confederate figures having been taken down in the past few years. Following the 2015 shooting massacre at a black church by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, Confederate symbolism came under fire in the South. Though many welcome removal, others argue against abolishing monuments containing historical value.
The recent decision by Gov. Phil Murphy is significant for the area because Liberty State Park overlooks Ellis Island. Murphy is a champion of immigration and a progressive politician known to cite the poem found at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. Murphy also pointed to New Jersey’s diverse population, where he claims Mississippi’s state flag creates animosity.
Responding to the flag’s removal, Mississippi’s Gov. Phil Bryant—a Republican—stated that he was “disappointed in Gov. Murphy’s actions. As I have repeatedly said, the voters of Mississippi should decide what the flag is or is not.” Multiple universities, cities, and counties in Mississippi have also removed the flag over criticism that it’s a reminder of slavery and segregation.