COLUMBIA, SC – The South Carolina chapters of several national organizations stood near the Confederate flag at the Statehouse Wednesday to announce a simple message: “We are asking all hate groups, like the KKK and the Black Panthers, to leave our state. You are not welcome here,” said Tina Reddy, with the state chapter of the National Action Network, which is headed nationally by Rev. Al Sharpton.
The Ku Klux Klan is planning a pro-Confederate flag rally at the SC Statehouse on July 18th. The state says any group that gets a permit may hold a rally or gathering at the Statehouse, as long as the space is available.
Standing with members of the National Action Network were members of Project Unity USA and the state chapter of the National Campaign for Tolerance. Rev. Darwin Miller, a former law enforcement officer who’s now with the National Campaign for Tolerance, says he doesn’t want bloodshed here.
“Talking to some youths and some other young people, they are saying that they may show up on the 18th to counteract what the Ku Klux Klan is doing. I ask them to send the word back to them we’re asking for time and peace and for them not to show up,” he says.
One fight over the Confederate flag broke out last Monday night, when flag protesters clashed with flag supporters in front of the Statehouse.
Bruce Trezevant, with Project Unity USA, says people need to remember the nine people who were killed at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last month. 21-year-old Dylann Roof has been charged with the murders, and reportedly said he targeted black people because he wanted to start a race war. Photos found online show Roof holding a Confederate flag and with a Confederate plate on the front of his car.
Trezevant says, “To go out and fight, curse and just cause a bunch of disruption for the city or the county or the state is a dishonor to those folks that passed away. So I ask each of you guys that are thinking about doing something to cause disruption in our city, our towns and our state to think about the families that already forgave the person that did the shooting.”
The groups say they think the flag will come down after state lawmakers go back to the Statehouse starting July 6th. Some lawmakers say the votes are there to remove the flag from Statehouse grounds. It’s possible it could be gone before the KKK rally on July 18th.