Early Saturday morning the Confederate flag was finally taken down from the South Carolina state capitol. However, it was not a government mandate that removed the flag, rather it was an activist from nearby North Carolina, Brittany Newsome, who illegally climbed the flagpole to pull it down.
Newsome and James Tyson were both arrested once the flag made it to the ground. They were charged with defacing a monument. Despite their efforts, the Confederate flag was back flying high within the hour.
The uproar over the flag comes in the wake of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. The suspected shooter, Dylan Roof, posted a racist manifesto on a website that also displayed photos of him posing with the Confederate flag.
A group of local activists helped organize the protest against the flag that flies according to a state law. The law itself is in place to honor those soldiers that fought on the side of the Confederacy, and by extension on the side of slavery, in the Civil War.
“We could not sit by and watch the victims of the Charleston Massacre be laid to rest while the inspiration for their deaths continues to fly above their caskets,” an activist group organized under the Twitter tag #KeepItDown said in a statement.
The activists were not alone in their desire to see the flag removed from the state capitol. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has shown deep regret that this incident happened “on her watch,” and has called for state lawmakers to pull the flag down. Haley, who has attended all four funerals for the victims so far, said that she respects the history behind the Confederate colors, but that it:
“does not represent the future of our great state,” Haley said.
President Obama is also a supporter of removing the flag. His preference would be to see the flag removed and kept to museum displays from now on. He even delivered the eulogy for the slain church pastor Reverend Clementa Pinckney on Friday.
“For too long we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens,” Obama said in his eulogy.
The issue is expected to be addressed next week by the South Carolina legislature, where they will debate wether or not to remove the flag.
[Reuters] [BBC] [Photo courtesy The Guardian]