The Confederate Battle Flag Flew Over the South Carolina State House Again This Weekend
Demonstrators briefly re-erected the Confederate battle flag on the grounds of the South Carolina State House Sunday morning, the Associated Press reported.
The South Carolina Secessionist Party organized the 11 a.m. rally, which drew about 150 supporters, some of them dressed in Confederate soldier uniforms.
"Join us at the South Carolina State House on the Anniversary of the greatest treason in our States History," read the group's invite page on Facebook. "On the anniversary of the lowering of the Confederate Flag, we will be raising it up again!"
The rally featured a band, a sing-along to "Dixie" and a few dozen counter-protesters, who shouted, "That flag is hate! That's why it was taken down in the first place," according to reports.
The timing of the rally was especially troubling, considering recent events.
In the past week alone, no fewer than two high-profile videos of black men being killed by police have circulated online, sparking protests in cities from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Atlanta to Inglewood, California.
Despite the racial tensions inflamed by the videos, organizers neither postponed nor canceled the rally. They raised the Confederate flag on a transportable aluminum pole and removed it when they were done.
The Confederate battle flag had previously flown above the South Carolina State House for 54 years, starting in 1961.
It had long been a point of controversy, but government officials removed it in July 2015 after protests stemming from the killing of nine black parishioners at a church in Charleston the month before.
The accused gunman, Dylann Roof, was a vocal white supremacist who posed in photos holding the flag.
Many of the flag's supporters have also tried disavowing themselves of racist intent, saying it is a symbol of their "heritage" and does not imply support for slavery. But the statements made in the mid-19th century by Southern states that marched to war under the same flag — including South Carolina — left little ambiguity as to what it really meant:
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world," read Mississippi's declaration of cause for secession.