South Carolina’s NAACP chapter is urging “patience” among its members after a North Carolina activist climbed up and removed the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds Saturday.
“Impatience must always be tempered by purpose and prudence,” State Conference President Lonnie Randolph, Jr., said in a statement. “Given the actions of the South Carolina General Assembly in the last several days, we ask everyone who shares our impatience and our disapproval of the flag to be patient and permit the General Assembly the opportunity to take its vote in July to at last remove this hurtful symbol from the people’s State House.”
30-year-old Brittany “Bree” Newsome of Raleigh was arrested once she climbed down from the pole at dawn Saturday. Several Bureau of Public Safety officers had spotted her using climbing gear to get up to the flag. Both she and another individual James Tyson of Charlotte were arrested for going inside the wrought-iron fence that surrounds the flag.
Both were charged with “defacing a monument.” Newsome is black, while Tyson is white. Another replacement flag was put up moments later.
Newsome, an African-American artist, is active in the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement. She told WIS-TV that “we can’t wait any longer” as legislators debate the flag’s future.
But while the South Carolina NAACP called Newsome’s and Tyson’s efforts “well-intentioned,” Randolph appealed for protesters to do just that — wait.
“This is not yet the time for civil disobedience, but a time for grieving over the tragedy in Charleston and a reflection on symbols and the hatred they fuel,” Randolph continued. “As we move toward an ordained solution, we ask for patience and committed focus.”
The General Assembly is set to return to special session on July 6. Leaders in both the House and Senate have indicated that’s when they could start debate over the flag.
Randolph differed from the national NAACP, which called on prosecutors to drop charges against the two and compared them to Rosa Parks and even Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The NAACP calls on state prosecutors to consider the moral inspiration behind the civil disobedience of this young practitioner of democracy,” National President Cornell Williams said in a statement.
The flag’s future on the Statehouse groups has moved front and center after civil rights groups linked it to nine murders at a Charleston AME church June 17. Images posted by the suspected killer show him posing with the Confederate flag in several pictures accompanying racially inflammatory posts. Charleston Police believe the killings were racially motivated.