COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Separated by barriers, protestors were back on the Statehouse grounds Saturday to rally against a group called “Flags Across the South.”
The group temporarily raised the Confederate flag where it once stood more than five years ago, something that has been done every year since the flag was taken down in 2015.
John Tyler said he was at the State House that historic day to celebrate the flag’s removal, and he has come back every time the flag has gone up since then. But looking at the people who support the flag this year, he said it feels different.
“For the past 5 years their number have been getting smaller,” Tyler said. “That lets you know that America itself is starting to progress and move forward,” he added.
“Flags Across the South,” a chairman of Braxton Spivey said it was “disheartening” not to see more of his group out Saturday, but said they stayed home out of fear of violence against them. While some protestors used profanity in some of their chants and cheers and at times singled at pro-flag demonstrators, the event was peaceful.
Protestors called the flag a symbol of hate and racist, but Spivey disagrees.
“They call that flag a representation of racism and hate because other organizations after the war picked that banner up and used it for their own purposes,” he said. Spivey said hate groups like the KKK have disgraced the flag and if he saw a hate group carrying the flag he would rip it from their hands.
“I think it’s very suitable for that flag to be flying right behind that soldier’s monument. Honoring those that can’t speak for themselves no more. It’s a soldier’s battle flag, no more, no less,” Spivey said.
Protestors say you can’t separate the flag from its history. “At some point, you have to understand you can’t freeze the Confederate flag in the heritage of the confederacy without the history of racism or oppression,” Tyler said.
But while Spivey sees heritage when he looks to the flag, protestors said they see hate at a crucial time in civil rights.
“That was very hurtful for that flag to be up there today,” said Empower SC leader Rye Martinez. “To come out here and to see that in the middle of an entire civil rights movement is plain disrespectful.”