Attorneys want Mississippi flag removed from O.C. civic center

A group of Orange County attorneys is calling for the removal of Mississippi's state flag from a display in Santa Ana's downtown civic center, saying its Confederate design symbolizes racism and hatred.

The Mississippi flag is the last to feature the Confederate battle cross -- a symbol, "inextricably linked to a legacy of racism, exclusion, oppression and violence," the Newport Beach-based Orange County Bar Assn. said in a statement.

The association recently passed a resolution seeking the flag's removal from Santa Ana's Plaza of the Flags, where the banners of all 50 states ripple in a civic center that also includes the county's central courthouse.

"I am proud of the board of directors for passing this important resolution on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address," Orange County Bar Assn. President Wayne Gross said in a statement. The emblem, he added, "has no place in or around courthouses."

This isn't the first time the Confederate symbol's place above the plaza has caused a flap.

In 1997, a Laguna Hills attorney campaigned unsuccessfully to have the flags of Mississippi and Georgia taken down.

Georgia has since changed its flag design, stripping it of the Confederate cross about a decade ago.

But a similar effort by Mississippi lawmakers and advocates in 2001 failed by a substantial margin, with two-thirds of the state's residents backing the old design in a sharply divisive vote.

Gerardo Mouet, who heads the city of Santa Ana's Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency, which maintains the display, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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jill.cowan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jillcowan

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