Tired of waiting for government action, a South Carolina woman took it upon herself to climb a flagpole at the state Capitol and remove the Confederate flag.
Bree Newsome, 30, and James Ian Tyson, 30, were arrested yesterday after Newsome scaled the 30-foot flagpole to cut down the flag, reports the Associated Press. Authorities arrived halfway through the mission and demanded that Newsome come down, but she continued. After she took down the flag, both she and Tyson were arrested and charged with defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds. They were released from jail last night.
“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer,” Newson said in a statement to the media following her release. “We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling White supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”
Following Newsome’s arrest, authorities hoisted the flag up once again, mere minutes before a rally in support of the flag was scheduled at the Capitol.
Since the tragic shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church that left nine dead, there has been a call to abolish the Confederate flag. Retail giants like Walmart and Amazon have pledged to stop selling Confederate merchandise, and last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley urged for the removal of the flag from state grounds.
Though Newsome and Tyson both face up to three years in prison and a fine of $5,000, various organizations have rallied behind Newsome’s efforts. A Kickstarter page has raised more than $97,000 in less than 24 hours for Bree’s legal fees. The NAACP released a statement yesterday supporting Newsome.
“Prosecutors should treat Ms. Newsome with the same large-hearted measure of justice that inspired her actions,” NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks said in a statement. “The NAACP stands with our youth and behind the multigenerational band of activists fighting the substance and symbols of bigotry, hatred and intolerance.”