For a brief moment the controversial Confederate flag, which flies over South Carolina’s capitol grounds, was down, after a woman climbed up the pole to remove it Saturday morning. The woman, along with another activist, has been arrested and the flag raised.
Educator Brittany ‘Bree’ Ann Byuarim Newsome scaled the pole and refused to come down until the flag was removed. A social media campaign and a petition, under the name “Free Bree,” calls for the release of the protesters, and has already gone viral.
It wasn't just simply removing the flag. It was removing, symbolically at least, white supremacy and patriarchy. I commend her. #FreeBree— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) June 27, 2015
The flag’s removal was a deliberate action by a group of teachers and activists amid a heated debate about the flag’s historical legacy of racism, intensified by a racially-motivated terror attack that killed 9 Black people at a historic African-American church in South Carolina June 18.
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“Deciding to do what the SC (South Carolina) Legislature has thus far neglected to do, the group took down the symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre, continued to fly at full mast in defiance of South Carolina’s grief, and flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future,” the group said in a press release.
The flag was returned to its position within hours of its removal and in time for a rally by flag supporters, scheduled for later today.
“South Carolina officials have sided with white supremacists in choosing to restore the flag before a planned rally,” says the ColorofChange petition calling for the release of the activists.” The legislature must immediately vote to permanently remove the Confederate flag from the capitol and all state buildings.”
The two activists are reportedly charged with defacing a monument and could face up to three years in prison or a fine up to US$5,000.