Activist arrested for taking down Confederate flag in South Carolina

Washington, June 28 (IANS/EFE) An African American activist was arrested on Saturday after taking down the Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol in South Carolina as part of the protests against the massacre last weekend of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston by a young white supremacist.

The young woman, identified as Bree Ann Byuarium Newsome, climbed the flagpole in the early hours and took the flag down with the aid of another activist, according to a video released by the movement BlackLivesMatter.

Both were subsequently arrested by State Capitol police in Columbia, capital of this southern state, accused of the misdemeanour of defacing a public monument.

“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality,” Newsome said in a statement released by the group.

Soon afterwards, state officials raised the Confederate flag again.

The flag, adopted in the Civil War by the secessionist Confederate states – which favoured slavery – against the northern Union states, is for some Americans a symbol of their history and identity, while for others it is an emblem of racism.

The controversy over its use in several southern states has increased following the shooting last week at a church of Charleston’s black community, during which nine people were murdered and their confessed killer, Dylann Roof, appears in several online photos posing with that flag.

South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley said she was in favour of removing the flag, but the proposed law to do so must still be debated by state legislators.

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