JACKSON, Miss. — A federal lawsuit against Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant seeks to eliminate the nation’s last state flag with the Confederate battle emblem.

In the suit filed Monday, attorney Carlos Moore of Grenada, Mississippi, said the flag is “state-sanctioned hate speech” that makes him and other African-Americans fear for their lives. He is asking a judge to remove the flag and declare it unconstitutional.

Republican Bryant, who recently issued a proclamation naming April as Confederate Heritage Month, has said voters should decide whether to keep the flag used since 1894.

“This is a frivolous attempt to use the federal court system to usurp the will of the people,” Bryant spokesman Clay Chandler said Monday. “The governor hopes Attorney General Jim Hood will seek attorneys’ fees to reimburse taxpayers the cost of defending against this needless drain on state resources.”

Public display of Confederate symbols has been debated since the slayings of black worshippers at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in June. The white suspect had previously posed for online photos with the rebel flag, which has a red field with a blue X dotted by 13 white stars. Moore’s lawsuit says the rebel flag “has been shown to incite racial violence and terror.”