Confederate flag will not be returning to State House grounds on anniversary of removal

Confederate flag will not be returning to State House grounds on anniversary of removal

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In years past, Sarah Keeling has been counter-protesting a rally at the State House every July 10th.

The rally was held by the South Carolina Secessionist Party. It marked the anniversary of the Confederate flag’s removal from the State House grounds.

Keeling said, “I remember driving home after the Charleston shooting and seeing the American and state flag at half mast – but the Confederate flag was not at half-mast waving on the State House grounds.”

James Bessenger is the former chairman of the now dissolved S.C. Secessionist Party. “It was our opinion that the people of SC were not given a voice to take the flag down.”

The group held rallies in 2016, 2017 and 2018. According to Keeling, who is a co-lead for the Columbia chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, said for the last two years she had applied for a permit to hold an event on the State House grounds on July 10th. “This year I applied at 12:01 a.m. on July 10 of 2018 for 2019.”

Keeling says they were awarded the permit.

Bessenger said, “It’s just these attention seeking, childish, who have nothing constructive to offer, liberal democratic white women who hold these counter-protests.”

A judge ordered the Secessionist Party to be disbanded after a woman sued the party over photos take of her children holding Confederate flags. So the group probably wouldn’t have even been able to hold a rally if they even were awarded a permit.

Keeling said when she found out the party had disbanded people asked if she was canceling the event. “I think it's still important. I think they'll still be out there even though they're not an official party. I think it's important to be there and take up space.”

Bessenger said his rally wasn’t about spreading hate.

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