Businessman will remove battle flag despite dispute with Confederate vets group

Businessman will remove battle flag despite dispute with Confederate vets group

ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - Before Edisto River Creamery served customers on John C. Calhoun Drive, the building served as the Orangeburg location for Maurice's BBQ.

There, the owner was known for his support of the Confederate Flag as well as his stance on segregation. Now, the new owner says it's time for a change.

"I have no problem with black people," said Tommy Daras. "I'm not associated with any racist group, but with this flag up on my property, it's like the beginning of Orangeburg and all people see is this sign of hatred."

Since opening Edisto River Creamery last summer, Daras said he and wife have received nothing but trouble because a Confederate Flag flies on their property.

"I've had two windows broken here," Daras said. "My employees have been harassed. The phone was ringing off the hook cussing us out, blaming it on us as a racist."

However, Daras said he's putting an end to it all on Wednesday.

"We are taking down the rebel battle flag and putting up the United State flag," Daras said. "The reason I'm doing it now is because the election just happened and everybody's pushing unity. That flag is separating us."

RELATED: See photos of the Confederate flag's removal from the State House grounds.

But the flag may not come down without a fight. According to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, the former owner of the property, Maurice Bessinger, gave the local chapter that portion of the land where the flagpole sits as a gift in the 1990s. The group said they have a deed and they pay taxes on the property. Daras, on the other hand, said his property title does not include those details.

"My deed is clear and cut that it has no attachments to them owning that property," Daras said.

Members of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans said the flag should remain on the property. While he was unable to go on camera today, a spokesperson for the local chapter of the group said, 'There so much about this that has been misrepresented. We get along with everybody. We are not a hate group."

The spokesman also said the flag represents heritage and history. However, Daras said local authorities will be called if anyone causes problems when the flag is removed at 10 a.m. Wednesday. City and county leaders will be in attendance.

As far as who owns the property, Daras said he'll be happy to take the concerns to court.

Copyright 2016 WIS. All rights reserved.