MISSISSIPPI – (CNN) — Walmart normally displays the local state flag in its US stores, but that is no longer the case in Mississippi.
The retailer has stopped displaying the Mississippi state flag — which includes the Confederate battle flag — in stores because of a debate over changing the design of the flag, Walmart said Tuesday.
The decision comes amid a renewed effort nationwide to remove memorials to the Confederacy as the nation grapples with the intertwined legacies of institutionalized racism and police brutality. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at races, and the US Navy and Marines have also moved to ban the Confederate flag from public display.
“We know the design of the Mississippi state flag is being discussed by various stakeholders,” Walmart said in a statement to CNN Business. “While the issue continues to be discussed, we’ve made the decision to remove the Mississippi state flag from display in its current form from our stores.”
While the conversation over changing the Mississippi state flag is not new, a bipartisan group of Mississippi lawmakers is again pushing to remove the Confederate emblem from the flag.
Several public universities, including the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, previously stopped flying the controversial state flag. And last week, the city of Gulfport, Mississippi, said it would do the same in a resolution which acknowledged the flag is for many “a painful reminder of past days of transgressions in this State and has also been used by some as an image of hatred, divisiveness, and violence.”
Walmart said the decision to no longer display the Mississippi flag is in line with its 2015 policy ending sales of all merchandise featuring the Confederate flag.
“We believe it’s the right thing to do, and is consistent with Walmart’s position to not sell merchandise with the Confederate flag from stores and online sites, as part of our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all of our customers in the communities we serve,” the company said.
The company said the policy applies to sales of the Mississippi flag. However, as of Tuesday evening, a Mississippi state flag still appeared listed for for purchase on Walmart’s website. After an inquiry from CNN Business, Walmart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez said the listing would be removed per the policy.
Walmart had 85 locations in Mississippi as of January.