By Sheryl Estrada
In light of the police-related deaths ofAlton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the killing of five Dallas police officers, the South Carolina Secessionist Party was asked by law enforcement to postpone a previously planned rally toraise the Confederate flag on state capitol grounds Sunday. The group refused, and the flag, with its divisive history, flew once again in the same spot from which it was removed.
The Secessionist Party posted the following message on Facebook:
Join us at the South Carolina State House on the Anniversary of the greatest treason in our States History. On the anniversary of the lowering of the Confederate Flag, [July 10] we will be raising it up again! The same flag, the same place, the same day. Fellow Southerners from across the Southern States will stand together in solidarity and defense of what we hold sacred.
“This defies logical and common sense,” House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland)said in an interview. “But we don’t regulate crazy.”
Approximately 150 people attended to watch the flag rise on a 30-foot aluminum pole sitting on a plastic base. Prior to last week, Black Lives Matter hadscheduled to counter protest at the rally, but called off in light of recent events.
The Post and Courier’s Maya T. Prabhu tweeted the following video of the rally:
Maya T. Prabhu (@MayaTPrabhu) July 10, 2016
The Confederate battle flag wasremoved from the Capitol grounds on July 10, 2015, following Dylann Roof’s murder of nine Black church members during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 17, 2015.
Online photos surfaced of Roof holding a Confederate flag and gun, and his car had a Confederate flag license plate. (There was also a photo on his Facebook page of him wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in Rhodesia and South Africa.)
Many residents of Charleston and the rest of the state, including Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and otherofficials,called for the flag’s removal from state Capitol grounds.
President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor who was also killed in the massacre. He explained why theConfederate battle flaghistorically represents racial suppression and needed to be removed.
“For many, Black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation,”he said. “We see that now.”
Sunday’s rally was pre-planned and authorized by authorities. However, according to The State newspaper, James Bessenger, the chairman of the Secessionist Party’s board, was contacted by the S.C. capitol police Friday to ask if the rally could be postponed due to the shooting of police officers in Dallas on Thursday following a protest of the police-related deaths of Black men. Bessenger said the board voted and decided to go forth with the rally, where the organization offered a moment silence for the Dallas officers.
About a dozen protesters showed in opposition of the Confederate flag being raised again. They stood on the other side of the barricade chanting “Walter Scott,” who was killed by a white police officer in North Charleston, and “Charleston Nine.”
The flag was removed after the rally at about 5 p.m., but the organization plans to raise it there every July 10. The Secessionist Party posted about the rally on Facebook:
Confederate ‘Rebel Flag’
The Army of Northern Virginia under General Lee adopted the Confederate flag, which is touted by supporters as representing heritage, as a battle flag. However, it is actually not one of the three national flags that were used to represent the Confederate nation during the Civil War, the first called “Stars and Bars.” The flag at the center of debate was only associated with the Confederacy after the South lost the Civil War, and is also known as the “rebel flag.”
There was a revival of the Confederate flag in the 1940s. In 1948, the segregationistDixiecrat partyushered in the use of the battle flag as a symbol of resistance to government. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) then used the flag to support their agenda of hate. Though not the group’s official flag, it had a substantial influence on the symbolism of the Confederate flag.
In the 1960s, white separatists in the South utilized the flag, which began flying at the South Carolina Capitol grounds in 1962.
New York Post and Civil War
The conservative publication, The New York Post, owned by News Corp (founded by Rupert Murdoch), has been criticized for the front cover of its Friday edition, which claims the shootings of officers in Dallas has now sparked a civil war.
Responses on social media:
@nypost pretty irresponsible headline.
Christopher Ridley (@SFviaNJ) July 8, 2016
Disgusting and irresponsible. What in the hell are you thinking https://t.co/gAi3EJ9BvH
Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) July 8, 2016
El Viejo Ebro (@oldmanebro) July 8, 2016