Myrtle Beach city council votes to support removal of Confederat - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach city council votes to support removal of Confederate flag from State House

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - At a special meeting Monday morning, Myrtle Beach City Council members voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to support the relocation of the Confederate flag to a museum.

"I think we should stand very proud and very tall as we witness a historical moment here in the city of Myrtle Beach," said Bennie Swans, of the Carolina African American Heritage Foundation.

Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea said Myrtle Beach is the only municipality in the state that he knows of to pass this kind of resolution so far.

The special meeting was called because council wanted to get its own opinion on paper before the South Carolina General Assembly makes its final decision, Councilman Wayne Gray said.

"I'm proud of council's action and I'm proud to be a part of this moment," Gray said.

Several council members spoke about how they came to the conclusion to vote yes on the resolution.

Councilman Mike Lowder talked about how although he doesn't think taking the flag down will actually change people's minds and hearts, it's the right thing to do and it can help people move in the direction of healing.

Councilman Randal Wallace said he's been supporting this effort for years and he's proud to see it finally coming to fruition.

Councilman and Mayor Pro Tempore Michael Chestnut said the city of Myrtle Beach needed to make a statement, so this resolution allows council to go on the record with its support.

There was also time for public comment before the council members made their vote.

Three people talked to council in support of the resolution. Nobody approached the podium to speak in opposition of it.

"I would hope to think in the bottom of my heart that that's the movement of the people of South Carolina recognizing it is time for that flag to be moved to a new location and off of State House grounds," Gray said.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's board members also voted Monday morning to support the efforts to take the Confederate flag down from the flagpole.

"The flag has become something much different than it was ever intended," President/CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Brad Dean said. "It's now a divisive symbol and we need to send a message to our residents and visitors and the nation that South Carolinians value civil rights and we abhor the racist, bigoted values that caused the killings in Charleston recently."

Racial tensions and oppressive history drove the votes, however, getting the flag removed from State House grounds could also mean more money for Myrtle Beach.

In 2009, Myrtle Beach won the bid for the ACC baseball tournament starting in 2011 for three years. However, the NAACP committed to boycotting the tournament, like it has at similar events, as long as the Confederate flag still flies on State House grounds. That tournament was estimated at the time to bring in $40 million.

"This decision isn't about the economics. Obviously those don't compare to the loss of lives in Charleston, but we do know that the NAACP boycott has negatively impacted our local economy," Dean said.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have since avoided applying for other major tournaments.

"We've largely stayed away from going after them because we know the obstacles that were before us and to have those removed is a great thing not just for us and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, but the state of South Carolina," said Andy Milovich, President/General Manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

The South Carolina General Assembly still has to pass a bill ordering for the removal of the flag. If that does happen, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans can attempt to host an ACC tournament without the risk of boycotts.

"Any opportunity that we have to showcase this stadium, showcase this ballpark, showcase the experience that we deliver, is a great opportunity for us economically and for the community as a whole," Milovich said.

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