Confederate flag stirs zoning battle

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCBD) – The skirmish over a Confederate flag in Orangeburg may soon be decided by the city’s zoning department.

An ice cream shop owner filed a zoning appeal for a Confederate battle flag that flies outside his restaurant at a well-traveled intersection in Orangeburg.

“It’s not a free speech issue.” said State Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg), who is representing the owner of the Edisto River Creamery & Kitchen. “It is what is the primary use of this property – is it business commercial or is it not?” added Bamberg, “and if it’s not, then it’s outside of the zoning requirements.”

The property on John C. Calhoun Drive used to be one parcel and owned by Maurice Bessinger, who was a segregationist that flew Confederate flags on his properties. Before Bessenger died, he gave the Sons of Confederate Veterans the deed to the .003 acre parcel of land in front of the restaurant where the flag flies.

“He knew that the people he was entrusting that property to people would never voluntarily take it down,” said Bamberg, who working the case for free.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans were not availible for comment. The South Carolina Seccessionist Party issued a statement on the matter saying in part:

His current attempts to challenge the flag based on zoning suggests that he is no longer confident he has a claim to the land the flag sits in. The Creamery owner is grasping for straws, being egged on by his fool of a lawyer, State Representative Justin Bamberg. We don’t expect the city will move against the SCV based on zoning claims, as it is likely that such would have been done years ago if there were a violation.

Bamberg says the SCV put up an even larger Confederate flag following the Mother Emanuel Massacre and for him, that says it all about why the flag is still there.

“They have the use they say it’s for which doesn’t comply with zoning,” said Bamberg, “but that piece of property signifies hate.”

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