The governor of Mississippi says he is disappointed in a decision by his counterpart in New Jersey to remove the southern state's flag from a park overlooking the Statue of Liberty.

Republican Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement Friday that "I'm disappointed in Gov. Murphy's actions. As I have repeatedly said, the voters of Mississippi should decide what the state flag is or is not."

The Mississippi flag includes the Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday ordered the removal of the flag from a display of state flags at Liberty State Park.

He says the flag "is reprehensible and does not reflect our values of inclusivity and equality."

Confederate symbols have been widely debated across the South, particularly since June 2015, when a white supremacist killed nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as in 2017, when violence erupted as white nationalists held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

Murphy said he made the decision after Democratic state Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, raised the issue with him.

Cunningham said in a statement that the flag symbolized "an era of hate, violence, and division."

Mississippians who voted in a 2001 statewide election chose to keep the flag.

But several Mississippi cities and counties and all eight of the state's public universities have stopped flying it in recent years amid criticism that the battle emblem is a racist reminder of slavery and segregation. Supporters of the flag say it represents history.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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