Rowan ballot box sparks city hall rally

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Folks were gathering outside Hattiesburg city hall Friday afternoon as protesters held up signs to deliver their message to city leaders.

"All what I want and what I believe most of the folks is honesty and integrity in this town and we're just not getting it," said protester Sammy Napier.

Organized through social media, the "No Seal, No Deal" rally popped up in protest of the Rowan ballot box that showed up to city hall with no seal, five hours after polls closed on election night. Protesters say that's a major concern.

Fleming says, "Five hours of an unsealed box, what could have happened in that time," said protester Cherice Fleming.

"As voters, every vote counts, every vote matters and every vote needs to be handled in a proper manner, every legal vote," said protester Carrie Robertson.

The protesters were met with opposition as well from those who say the protest is only making matters worse.

"Enough is enough. It's done tore the city apart," said Pastor Dennis Henderson.

For Henderson, it's more than just an argument over a ballot box. He says it's a combination of racial tension and sore losers.

"Mayor DuPree, he won. The people voted. Let the city loose. Let the city go. Dave Ware, if you love the city so much tell your people, "Hey, I lost, let's go home and let's be through with it," said Henderson.

For Brandon Thaxton, it goes beyond the candidates and into city hall.

"This is about corruption in our local government. It doesn't really have anything to do with them personally," said Thaxton.

While the two sides may not agree on who the rightful mayor is, they do agree resolution is needed quickly for the city to move forward.

"The election was Tuesday. We should know who our mayor is. The President of the United States, you know the next morning, sometimes even that night who won the election. Hattiesburg Mississippi, not so much," said Thaxton. "We're the laughing stock of the state. We need to get it together."

For the most part, the protest was peaceful. There was one confrontation that had to be broken up by police.

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