Two Activists Arrested for Confederate Flag Removal at South Carolina Statehouse

Photo Credit: Morguefile

Photo Credit: Morguefile

The Confederate flag outside of the South Carolina Statehouse was removed by two activists, on Saturday.

The activists, identified as Brittany Ann Byuarim Newsome, 30, and James Ian Tyson, 30, were both arrested after the incident.

Newsome, was spotted climbing the 30-foot steel pole that held the flag around 6:15am. The Raleigh, North Carolina native was clad in climbing gear. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety said that she refused to descend until she had unhooked the flag.

Tyson, from Charlotte, North Carolina, entered the wrought iron fence surrounding the flag, in order to assist Newsome.

A statement from officials was released stating that the flag, which is protected by state law, has been raised again, “The flag was replaced with a new flag within about an hour and no further damage was done.”

The two were taken into custody on Saturday afternoon and have been fined up to $5,000. Failure to pay the fine will result in three years of prison time. An online fundraiser for Newsome’s bail raised over $42,000 during the course of four hours.

The incident followed a multiple calls for the banner’s removal after the massacre of nine people at Charleston church earlier this month. The police characterized the massacre as a racist attack.

The NAACP released a statement commending Newsome for the flag removal and asking prosecutors to be considerate of “the moral inspiration” of her actions.

‘We commend the courage and moral impulse of Ms. Newsome as she stands for justice like many NAACP activists including Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous Americans who have engaged in civil disobedience,” read the statement. “The NAACP calls on state prosecutors to consider the moral inspiration behind the civil disobedience of this young practitioner of democracy.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. took to Twitter to comment on the incident, writing, “We thank God that @BreeNewsome had the courage to take the flag down! #KeepItDown #FreeBree”

Newsome is a writer and singer who goes by the name Bree. The hashtag “#FreeBree” has been used by supporters, including Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr., on Twitter to spread word about her arrest.

The hashtag has been trending on Twitter, and several tweeters, including filmmaker Michael Moore, have offered to chip in for her bail, “Friends of @BreeNewsome – I will pay her bail money or any legal fees she has. Please let her know this. #Charletson #TakeDownTheFlag”

Hours after the flag removal occurred, a pro-Confederate flag rally of about 50 people was held at the state capital. The attendees waved banners and shouted “Heritage Not Hate!” and “Let the People Vote.”

The activists behind the idea to remove the flag refer to themselves as a multicultural group of “concerned citizens. They released a statement explaining their reasoning for the removal, “We took this task in our own hands because our President, Governor, mayors, legislators, and councilmen had a moral duty to remove the flag but failed to act. We could not sit by and watch the victims of the Charleston Massacre be laid to rest while the inspiration for their deaths continue to fly above their caskets.”

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