An activist climbed the flagpole outside the South Carolina State House on Saturday and removed the Confederate flag, a day after President Barack Obama called it “a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation.”
The African-American woman, identified as Britanny Newsome, 30, was arrested as soon as she climbed down the pole with the flag. Images and video of the incident were posted on social media.
Police in Columbia also arrested a man in connection with the flag's removal. Both were charged with defacing a monument.
Within an hour, the Confederate banner was flying on the flagpole again, shortly before a group of pro-Confederate flag protesters gathered at the capitol.
A larger pro-Confederate flag demonstration was held in Montgomery, Alabama, where as many as 1,000 people gathered to wave the flag and voice their displeasure with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who on Wednesday ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from his state's capitol grounds.
Across the United States, there is growing support to remove the Confederate flag from public places in the wake of the racially charged massacre this month of nine black worshippers inside a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
Obama discussed the flag during his Friday eulogy for the pastor of the Emanuel AME Church, Clementa Pinckney.
"Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong,” Obama said.
By law, the banner flies at a memorial on the South Carolina State House grounds honoring soldiers who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the American Civil War.
The South Carolina Legislature is expected to begin debate this coming week on whether to remove the banner from the memorial.