A chapter of the Ku Klux Klan received a permit this past week so that the organization can hold a protest rally near the South Carolina statehouse to demonstrate against the predicted removal of the Confederate battle flag from the complex grounds in Columbia. That is scheduled for mid-July, but, if the state legislature moves with alacrity, the white supremacist group will be protesting against a fait accompli, a done deal, as it were.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported June 29 that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a chapter centered in Pelham, North Carolina, applied for a permit allowing between 100 and 200 people to congregate on July 18 on the north side of the statehouse. With the South Carolina state legislature likely to vote on the flag’s removal as soon as it reconvenes for its next session on July 6, said removal may have already taken place.
The Confederate battle flag has flown at full mast since 2000, as Time explains it, when the state legislature removed it from the capitol building and placed it on the southern side of the Confederate war dead memorial that is set on the complex grounds. In that piece of legislation, it became state law that the flag was to be flown at 30 feet at all times. Since the flagpole from which it flies is 30 feet high, it remained at full mast, even after the U. S. flag and the South Carolina flag went to half mast after 9 individuals were shot and killed in Charleston on June 17. Tempers have flared and debate has raged over the outright removal of the flag as one faction claims it should stay because of its physical placement (the memorial) and its place in history, and the other argues for its removal due to its racist symbolism and its oppressive history against minorities.
The debate, which has been traditionally a dead-end issue, seemed to shift considerably when Gov. Nikki Haley, surrounded by legislators of both political parties, called for the flag’s removal on June 22. The debate had gone national, with Alabama’s governor ordering that all four Confederate flags around the capitol building in Montgomery and various demonstrations throughout South Carolina.
The Post and Courier, after conducting a poll of state legislators and senators, then comparing the results with the Associated Press and the South Carolina Press Association, determined Monday that there was enough votes for the passage of legislation to remove the flag. State law requires two-thirds of the both the House and Senate to pass. Still, given the controversy, the vote could very well occur on the first day of the next session, which is July 6.
If so, the Ku Klux Klan could be holding a protest rally against removal after the fact. Still, the time of the expected vote is unclear and could take place sometime later than the first day of session.
Opponents of the flag have already seen the flag taken down, though. CNN reported that, just hours before a pro-flag rally was to take place on June 27, 30-year-old Bree Newsome shimmied up the 30-foot pole and removed the flag by hand. Upon returning to the ground, and after fellow activist James Tyson helped her out of her climbing gear, she and her college were arrested. The two were charged with defacing a monument, which is a misdemeanor, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
A new flag was up and flying about an hour later. It’s the state law, as it stands…