Confederate flag removal prompts dueling rallies at SC State House

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Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Saturday marked six years since the Confederate battle flag was removed from the State House grounds.

Two groups, one in support of the flag’s removal and one opposed, gathered at the Capitol building for demonstrations.

Flags Across the South held a rally on the north steps of the State House within police barricades in protest of the flag’s removal. Outside the barricades, demonstrators gathered in support of the flag being taken down.

The Confederate battle flag flew at the state house for 77 years until it was taken down on July 10, 2015. Former Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill calling for the flag’s removal less than a month after since-convicted murderer Dylann Roof killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015. Photos of Roof posing with Confederate flags surfaced and prompted the bill signing.

Braxton Spivey, chair of Flags Across the South, says he returns to the State House each year around the anniversary of the flag being taken down. He says it’s an opportunity for him to share what the flag represents to him.

“That flag is a soldier’s banner,” says Spivey. “That’s what the Confederate soldier looked for in the field of battle. It didn’t even represent the Confederate States of America, it was like battle flag.”

Counter protester Sarah Keeling says she thinks the flag represents racism and slavery. She says she came to protest the flag because she believes it represents what she calls the values of the Confederacy,

“I think that as much as they say their heritage isn’t about slavery and racism,” says Keeling. “That’s exactly what it is it’s about--supremacy. And so, I feel the need to call that out.”

Following the Flags Across the South demonstration Saturday morning, the Columbia Racial Justice Coalition held a flag removal celebration on the north steps Saturday afternoon.

The flag that was removed from the State House in 2015 is displayed in the Confederate Relic Room in Columbia.

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