Something was missing in front of Boise City Hall when city spokesman Mike Journee got to work at 8 a.m., Tuesday, June 24.
"It was there when I left last night and it was gone when I got in this morning," he said.
Journee was talking about Mississippi's state flag, which was one of the state flags hoisted in a grove in front of Boise City Hall and features, in its upper left-hand corner, the Stars and Bars—the flag of the Confederacy.
The flag was taken down one week after a man opened fire
on members of a Charleston, S.C., African-American church, killing nine people in what has been called a terrorist act. The suspect in the shooting, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, has been linked to white supremacist rhetoric and symbols, including the Confederate flag. In the wake of the shooting, public outrage has brought the Confederate flag into the public consciousness as an enduring symbol of America's complex past regarding racial issues.
It's a symbol Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and others at Boise City Hall don't think jives with Boise's community values of inclusiveness and diversity. Bieter asked for the flag to be removed yesterday.
"You've seen the debate around the country about this symbol. The message that symbol represents doesn't represent our city," Journee said.
But some members of the public were skeptical of Bieter's decision to remove Mississippi's state flag.
"This is tough," said Carol Southard, speaking to Boise Weekly
at Goldy's Corner, directly across the street from the City Hall plaza where the flags are flown. "The flag isn't a direct representation of Idaho, but the symbol on it is definitely still offensive to a lot of people."
"It is in front of the [city hall]. They should consider opening this to the people—let them decide if they want the flag there," she said.
And just down the street, at Flying M Coffeehouse, Cheri Bourn said she didn't even know the Confederate design was featured on Mississippi's state flag.
"I hadn't seen it, and I'm actually shocked that the Confederate symbol is in there. It will be strange to have one missing but I don't think it's appropriate to have the Confederate flag anywhere anymore," she said.