COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Wednesday marked the 4 year anniversary of the Confederate flag being removed from the State House grounds.
It is a moment in South Carolina history that a lot of people still talk about.
Two different events were held on the north side of the State House Wednesday.
Early in the morning, a Confederate Flag rally was scheduled from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Bruce Hagen was at that event Wednesday morning. He said he came out to remember the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. It wasn’t about racism. “That was the flag they put up there to honor the soldiers who had fallen. I’m doing that,” he said.
Hagen and another man stood facing towards Gervais Street holding two different flags. One man had a Confederate Flag and Hagen was holding a Blue Bonnie Flag.
This year’s Confederate flag event was a lot smaller than events held on the same day in year’s past.
The group that would hold those rallies, the South Carolina Secessionist Party, was ordered to dissolve by a judge earlier this year.
Also, the group that would protest these rallies, Showing Up For Racial Justice, was awarded a permit to be on the State House grounds from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. They applied for the permit a year in advance. The founder said she wanted to prevent a big rally from happening.
Hagen said he isn’t upset a group that is against the flag was able to reserve the grounds for the majority of the day, “It doesn’t bother me at all. They have a right to do what they did. I have the right to do what I do.”
Showing Up For Racial Justice’s event was about remembering the 9 people who lost their lives in the Charleston church shooting in 2015. Kara Anderson with Showing Up For Racial Justice said, “We’re here to gather as a community and to honor the Emanuel 9 which was the ultimate reason the flag came down and just build community.”
Reverend Raymond Johnson drove down from Charlotte to be at the event. The South Carolina native believes things in the Palmetto State are improving, but he would like to see more progress, “We have to mend these fences and bring back love. Let’s keep marching on.”
The founder of the Columbia chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice said she has already applied for a permit for an event next year at the same time and day.
A pro-Confederate flag group, Flags Across the South, will hold an event at the State House on Saturday, according to organizers and permit records from the Department of Administration.