Dozens gather for pro-confederate flag rally at SC State House

A group held a pro-Confederate flag rally in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday, days after the fourth anniversary of the flag being removed from the Statehouse grounds. (Source: WIS/Gray News)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The group Flags Across the South held a pro-Confederate flag rally Saturday at the South Carolina Statehouse.

It comes days after the fourth anniversary of the Confederate flag being removed from the Statehouse grounds.

In the past, the South Carolina Secessionist Party raised it on the anniversary, July 10. But the group dissolved earlier this year, leaving no event planned.

The group Showing Up for Racial Justice also had a permit to rally on the Statehouse grounds for July 10.

About 25 to 30 supporters came out to Saturday’s rally. Only one showed up in opposition.

The permit allowed the flag to be raised from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

Braxton Spivey, a chairman of Flags Across the South, says the flag raising was about honoring and remembering the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War.

“It was a soldiers battle flag, their banner. No more, no less,” Spivey said. “My ancestors fought for the Confederacy. I’m originally from Virginia, and like I said, that flag was their flag.”

Thomas Webb, a supporter who attended the rally said he comes out for all Confederate flag events.

"And I always bring my own flag, too. This is who we are. This is the flag of independence," Webb said.

Sarah Keeling, a co-leader with Showing Up for Racial Justice, held a sign Saturday behind the barricades of the Statehouse, with hopes to convey a message.

“You see the people that drive by that are just appalled, seeing the flag back, so I think it’s important for them to see people that don’t agree with it as well,” Keeling said. “Two easy words, it’s white supremacy. I know they see it as heritage, but I think you can celebrate your heritage at home or maybe at a cemetery or maybe at the Confederate Relic museum where the flag that was here is now.

"I don’t think we need to make a public spectacle of it and every time we do it embarrasses the state.”

Spivey said he wanted to hold the rally on the anniversary, but other supporters said they preferred to hold it on a weekend when more people would be able to attend. He disputed the flag was racist.

“(Soldiers) looked for that banner in a field of battle. Cornfields, they couldn’t see nobody else, they looked for that flag and that led them to where they needed to be," he said. "It was their banner. It represented a Confederate soldier. It did not represent slavery."

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