Confederate flag will — temporarily — fly again at South Carolina Statehouse on Monday
COLUMBIA — The Confederate battle flag will return to the South Carolina Statehouse on Monday for the second anniversary of when it was removed in the wake of the murder of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
The S.C. Secessionist Party will host a flag-raising for an event marking “two years since the initiation of the politically correct cultural genocide we have seen sweep across the Southland,” organizers wrote on Facebook.
Convicted Emanuel AME shooter Dylann Roof was seen posing with the flag in pictures posted online. His acts helped fuel a nationwide backlash against the Confederate flag, including from merchants who stopped selling items with the Civil War banner.
S.C. Secessionist Party founder and president James Bessenger said he plans to hold the event and raise the Confederate flag every year as a reminder that South Carolinians did not get a chance to have their voices heard before lawmakers voted to remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds.
The event also is a reminder that the state has not displayed the banner in the S.C. Confederate Relic Room, he said.
Displaying the flag in the museum was part of the compromise made when the General Assembly passed the bill that removed the banner from next to the Confederate Soldier Monument along Gervais Street.
“We’re going to keep doing this every year,” he said, stressing he does not want to go an entire year without the flag flying at the Statehouse.
The event is expected to last from 9 a.m. to noon with speakers and a ceremonial re-raising of the Confederate battle flag on a portable pole in the place where the banner once flew at 10 a.m. The flag is expected to fly until about 3 p.m. Monday.
The Secessionist Party event is drawing opposition. Members of the Columbia branch of the community group Showing Up for Racial Justice plan to stand along Gervais Street near the rally to show they do not support the re-raising.
“It’s important for us to be out there so that people realize that not everybody in South Carolina feels the same way that the Secessionists do,” the group’s Columbia organizer Sarah Keeling said.
After sometimes boisterous confrontations during the 2015 flag debate, Keeling said her group, which formed almost a year ago, plans to stand quietly holding signs.
“We don’t think it’s a forum to change hearts and minds,” she said.