July 2, 2015

State senator who supports Confederate flag says he doesn’t plan filibuster

State Sen. Lee Bright (Image: SCETV)

State Sen. Lee Bright (Image: SCETV)

As the American Civil War neared an end in early 1865, Confederate soldiers fought defensive actions against General Sherman’s Union troops in South Carolina. The outnumbered Confederates by that time knew they would be on the losing side when the war was over, but hoped to delay the ending as long as possible.

The handful of state lawmakers who are defending the Confederate battle flag at South Carolina’s Statehouse 150 years later seemingly find themselves in similar position. Recent work by the Charleston Post & Courier found more than two-thirds of state legislators have publicly indicated they would vote to remove the flag when lawmakers return to special session next week. Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the flag’s removal, as have almost all of South Carolina college presidents, chambers of commerce, and even the mayors of its largest cities Columbia and Charleston.

Seemingly resigned to defeat, flag supporters like State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, say they have no plans to block the vote through filibuster.

“We’re in special session. So if I went up there for three, four days… the net result would be the same,” Bright told South Carolina Radio Network. “If I could stall it for weeks, I believe we could change things. But only being able to stall it for a day or so, I don’t anticipate it changing.”

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Groups urge peaceful demonstrations in debate over Confederate battle flag in South Carolina

Various groups urged calm on both sides of the Confederate battle flag issue, as the Legislature returns to next week to open debate on removing

 Groups urge peaceful demonstrations in debate over Confederate battle flag.  South Carolina Radio Network photo.

Groups urge peaceful demonstrations in debate over Confederate battle flag.
South Carolina Radio Network photo.

it from the State House grounds.

“We are asking all good will people to restrain themselves from the violence,” Tina Reddy, spokeswoman for the state chapter of the National Action Network, said Wednesday in front of the flag.

That appeal came after a fight broke out Monday evening involving  both sides, which resulted in the arrest of a Lexington County man for disorderly conduct.

Reddy’s group also called on outside groups to stay out of the state while the decision is being debated. Her comments come weeks before a North Carolina-based Ku Klux Klan group travels to Columbia for a rally at the State House on Saturday July 18th.

“We are asking all hate groups like the KKK and the Black Panthers to leave our state,” she said. “You are not welcome here.”

Her organization also urged law enforcement across the state to keep a close eye on black churches in rural areas because of recent fires, many of which are still under investigation.

Bruce Trezevant, head of Project Unity, a group that promotes harmony, said the incidents Monday are disrespectful to the nine who were killed in the Charleston church shooting. “Those actions of violence are a dishonor to those who passed away.”

Darwin Miller, head of the state chapter of the National Campaign for Tolerance, is urging both sides to stay not to be violent. “We are urging you to be calm and peaceful.”



Jesse Jackson says flag’s removal will advance South Carolina

During a visit to Greenville on Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson praised efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds.

“This is the moment for a great awakening,” Jackson, who is originally from Greenville, said during a press conference.

He praised Republicans who have called for the flag’s removal, among them Gov. Nikki Haley and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. Jackson said he believes the GOP lawmakers’ sentiments are sincere. Legislators will likely start debate on the flag’s future next week.

The civil rights veteran also commended the governor for leading the way last week. “We are determined to let the best of our state come out. We’ve seen that so far. The statement made by Governor Nikki Haley was most profound.”

But he called on leaders to seize momentum for more change. Jackson said he believed the deaths would lead to social change, much like the assassination of President John Kennedy. “There’s power in innocent blood.” He said the state should also take a further look at education conditions, high number of incarcerated African-American youth, and expanding Medicaid eligibility in South Carolina.

Jackson called the June 17 shootings in Charleston the “most-traumatic killings” since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator among the victims who were killed, will be remembered as a martyr.





‘God works in mysterious ways’ President eulogizes fallen senator

President Obama speaks during the funeral for State Sen. Pinckney on Friday (Image: SCETV)

President Obama speaks during the funeral for State Sen. Pinckney on Friday (Image: SCETV)

In a eulogy for a slain South Carolina legislator Friday, President Obama pushed for an examination of what he said were the country’s racial biases and the symbols of a segregated past.

Obama made the comments during a roughly 35-minute speech to honor State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the Emanuel AME pastor who was murdered by a suspected white supremacist at the church last week. Eight others were killed in the attack.

“It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson, and shots fired at churches. Not random, but as a means of control. A way to terrorize and oppress,” the President said. “An act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion. An act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.”

“Oh, but God works in mysterious ways,” he said to large applause. “God has different ideas. He didn’t know he was being used by God. Blinded by hatred, the alleged killed could not see the grace surrounding Rev. Pinckney and that Bible study group.”

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Sons of Confederate Veterans leader decries ‘unscrupulous opportunists’

The Sons of Confederate Veterans spoke for a half-hour below the battle flag on Thursday

The Sons of Confederate Veterans spoke for a half-hour below the battle flag on Thursday

The Civil War history group Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) defended the Confederate battle flag at the Statehouse Thursday — responding after a large majority of state lawmakers indicated they would vote to take it off the grounds.

The group’s South Carolina division commander Leland Summers criticized the sudden public shift, blaming politicians who he said had been intimidated or swayed by “unscrupulous opportunists” who have always wanted the flag removed.

Summers did not take questions during Thursday morning’s event, which came two days after opponents of the flag rallied for nearly two hours in almost the same spot near the base of the Confederate Soldiers Monument. He said the organization would have further comment after the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shootings last week are buried.

“Due to the recent behavior of one warped mind, unscrupulous opportunists — most of which are not even from South Carolina — have decided, ‘We’ll solve that problem for you South Carolina,'” he said. “Their method of solving is to attack and remove Confederate symbols and flags not just here, but all across the country.”

“The groups that I speak to you about… are doing nothing more than supporting and creating cultural genocide,” he added later.

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