Activists have removed a Confederate flag which was posted in front of the South Carolina Statehouse for almost 50 years on Saturday, heating up the recently sparked nationwide debate about the meaning of the southern flag in modern America.
A group of activists led by 30 year old Bree Newson and James Ian Tyson decided to bring down the flag due to its symbolic meaning. The flag was used by southern American states as a common banner in the American Civil War, who fought for upholding a thriving slave labor-based industry against the pressures of repeal coming from the north.
The activist group which Newson and Tyson represent, called Blackbird, released a statement on Saturday explaining that the group didn’t want to wait any longer, and that its aims at “dismantling white supremacy” while aiming towards the promotion of racial justice and equality.
Newson, who used climbing gear to get up the pole, was arrested immediately after reaching ground level and risks being fined with up to $5,000 for defacing monuments siuated on the Capitol grounds. Tyson, who assisted her with the climbing gear, also faces the same charges. Local authorities commanded Newson to come down when she was halfway up the whole, but she chose to continue until she managed to cut it down.
Apparently, the flag was almost immediately replaced by state authorities. The Confederate flag was initially set just outside of the Capitol building, on the same pole as the U.S. flag, and was raised in 1965 to commemorate a century since the end of the Civil War, but was later moved in front of a soldiers’ monument later in face of protests regarding its symbolism.
The case gained a lot of acclaim from social justice supporters on social media, with many offering to pay Newson’s and Tyson’s bail, some even raising fundraisers in their names. Overall, many commended their “bravery” and “defiance” as a step forward in the nation’s thinking, comparing them to other past social justice militants such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks.
Public displays of the Confederate flag have come under fire especially after last week’s mass shooting at a Charleston Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which resulted in 9 victims, all black. The shooter, 21 year old Dylann Roof, was a white supremacist militant and his image was publicly associated with it after social media images of him holding the Confederate flag surfaced.
Image Source: Daily Mail