Early Saturday morning a Carolina activist scaled a flagpole outside the State House in Columbia, South Carolina and removed the Confederate flag. After climbing down from the 30-foot pole, the woman, identified as Bree Newsome on Twitter, was arrested. Newsome is associated with the #KeepItDown campaign aimed at removing the Confederate flag.
The flag is protected by state law and was raised back up shortly thereafter. A pro-flag rally is planned at the site later this morning.
“We can’t wait any longer,” Newsome said in a statement regarding the motivation behind her decision to remove the flag herself. “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.”
The Confederate flag is at the center of a debate on racial justice that has emerged after the murder of nine black parishioners in Charleston’s Emmanuel A.M.E. Church by 21-year-old Dylann Roof on June 17.
Those involved in taking down the flag said it is “a symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre” and that it “flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future.”
On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican and the first non-white governor of the state, called for the removal of the flag, saying “this flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.”
The South Carolina House of Representatives has agreed to debate the issue.
As far as the #KeepItDown campaign is concerned, the time for debate is over. “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,” the group said in a statement. “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.”
Watch the footage of Newsome removing the flag here:
Shortly after Newsome’s arrest, an Indiegogo campaign called “Bail for Bree Newsome” was started to support any bail and legal charges she may incur for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House flagpole. With a goal of $20,000, the fund was already a quarter full by 1:00 pm EST Saturday. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore also tweeted that he will pay Newsome’s bail money and legal fees.