Law enforcement officers at the Statehouse in Columbia say an Irmo man was arrested Monday after a fight broke out between apparent Confederate flag supporters and a group of about 30 protesters rallying against its presence at the Capitol.
A Department of Public Safety release said 25-year-old Nicholas Thompson was charged with disorderly conduct. The fight marred what had been mostly peaceful opposing rallies up to that point.
Bureau of Public Safety officers (who provide security at the Statehouse) reported a group of about 15 vehicles with pro-flag supporters pulled up on Gervais Street in front of the Statehouse just after 7:00 p.m. and stopped in the middle of the street. The officers said about eight to 10 occupants then got out of the vehicles and “began to engage in an altercation with the crowd.” The announcement does not specifically say if Thompson had been inside one of the vehicles or if he was already on the grounds at the time.
BPS and additional law enforcement were able to contain the situation. The SC Highway Patrol, University of South Carolina Police and Columbia Police Department responded to the scene as well. Protesters remained on the Statehouse grounds two hours later, although police had shut down the block of Gervais Street that passes in front of the flag.
Both pro-flag and anti-flag protesters had gathered at the base of the flag earlier in the evening. A WLTX reporter had even tweeted out video of some members from both groups praying together.