A Mississippi man faces life in prison for detonating a home-made bomb at Walmart, after the retail giant said it would no longer carry items bearing the image of the Confederate flag. No one was hurt in the incident, which happened in Tupelo on Sunday (Nov. 1).
The man, Marshall Leonard, allegedly got out of his car, lit a package and threw it in the vestibule, according to Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre. “There was an employee on break, and the suspect told him, ‘You better run,’” he told the Tupelo Daily Journal. “It wasn’t a large explosion. It didn’t cause a lot of damage to the store.”
Leonard was arrested after a traffic stop, and faces a life sentence if convicted.
Leonard was an outspoken proponent of the Confederate flag. He wrote on the Daily Journal’s Facebook page last week that the paper was on “final warning.” “You are part of the problem. As a result of this, y’all are going down, along with Walmart, WTVA, Reeds department store, and all the rest of the anti-American crooks. I’m not kidding. No messing around anymore!”
The Confederate flag has become a subject of a heated national debate after a shooting of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Photos of the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, posing with Confederate symbols surfaced online shortly thereafter. Many businesses, including Walmart, banned Confederate flag merchandise, an local authorities and lawmakers across the country decided to take the flag down from government grounds.
University of Mississippi students voted last month to ask the university to remove the state flag, which includes the Confederate emblem, from campus. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant said last week that the state should hold a referendum on changing the flag in 2016.