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Brawl over the Confederate flag spills into the streets outside of South Carolina’s statehouse
06:44 am


South Carolina
Confederate flag

Photo posted to Facebook of the scene outside the South Carolina statehouse during a brawl over the Confederate flag.
At approximately 7:15 PM on June 29th, a brawl broke out in front of the South Carolina statehouse between supporters of the Confederate flag and protesters seeking to have it removed from the statehouse grounds.

According to the Bureau of Protective Services, about 30 anti-flag protesters were on statehouse grounds when a group of fifteen vehicles carrying pro-flag supporters pulled up and stopped in the middle of Gervais Street, in front of the statehouse. Between eight and ten occupants exited their vehicles and began to engage in an altercation with the crowd.

One eyewitness claimed tensions escalated when a convoy of Confederate flag supporters began shouting “racist remarks” from their vehicles at anti-flag protesters.

According to another eyewitness, a Confederate flag was ripped from a passing car of hecklers. The car following behind stopped, and a passenger emerged, confronting the crowd, inciting the brawl.

Another eyewitness stated, “several people were fighting and it spilled into Gervais St, and some people started pulling over and getting out of their cars to join in. Police began separating the two groups and pushing them back onto the statehouse grounds, and then a small group charged the other group, a quick secondary scuffle broke out, and then the small group took off running with several dudes chasing them behind the capitol.”

One man was arrested at the scene and charged with disorderly conduct.

An anti-Confederate flag rally on June 20th attracted nearly 2000 protesters. A similar rally is scheduled for July 4th. The Ku Klux Klan has also scheduled a pro-Confederate flag rally for July 18. It looks like it’s going to be a long, hot summer.

Here is eyewitness footage of the fight:

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
On the wrong side of history: Scenes from a South Carolina pro-Confederate flag rally

Fulfilling my obligations as Dangerous Minds’ Senior Southern Affairs correspondent, I wrote last week about the deadly church shooting in Charleston which took the lives of Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson. That article examined the whirlwind of events that took place in the week following the murders, most notably Governor Nikki Haley and several flip-flopping Republican lawmakers calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the SC statehouse grounds.

In the few days since, there have been several newsworthy events related to the shooting, the white-supremacist ideology behind it, and the Confederate flag issue. Friday saw President Obama give a moving eulogy for slain South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, which included a pitchy, but truly tear-jerking rendition of “Amazing Grace” sung by the POTUS himself. On Saturday, activist and fearless badass, Bree Newsome, in an inspiring display of civil disobedience, shimmied the 30 foot SC statehouse flagpole and removed the Confederate flag before being arrested by State Troopers. Also, in the past week a string of nighttime fires have hit at least six predominantly black churches in Southern states.

Saturday morning, June 27, just a few hours after Bree Newsome’s act of civil disobedience, a rally was held at the SC statehouse, organized by supporters of the Confederate flag, expressing their desire to keep the antiquated banner flying in front of the seat of South Carolina government. In contrast to a rally held last week calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds which attracted nearly 2000 people, Saturday’s pro-flag rally attracted approximately 50 self-professed “history scholars.”

June 27th South Carolina statehouse flag rally. All photos by Bickel.
A Facebook post listed the rally as taking place between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. I snapped photos between 10:30 and 11:00 am. There was relatively little media covering the “event.” The flag supporters dispersed later in the day when both a rainstorm and about 50 members of the “Better Consciousness Foundation,” a group comprised of leaders from the Bloods, Folk Nation (G.D.N), and the Crips, organized for social justice, arrived on the scene.

Here are my photos from the “Save the Flag” rally. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version. The turnout was so adorably pathetic, you almost feel sorry for them. As we say in South Carolina, “bless their hearts.”

Fittingly lonesome visual statement on the “keep the flag” camp. Click on image for larger version.

A man, identified by onlookers as “maybe Katt Williams’ cousin” displays his Southern pride.

The protesters went to great lengths to frame themselves as non-racists. This lady yelled to reporters at the scene, “I bet y’all won’t report this: I had dinner with a black man last night!” She then said, I shit you not, “some of my best friends are black people.” A man to her right chimed in that he was willing to bet it was a great dinner because “black people know how to cook.”

In all probability, you is.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Charleston, the Confederate flag, Amazon, Skrewdriver, The Dukes of Hazzard, and moving forward

Pro-Confederate flag protester at a recent rally. Photo by Bickel.
As Dangerous Minds’ Senior Southern Affairs correspondent and a proud South Carolinian, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer some commentary on the events that have transpired in my state since the tragic Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting which took the lives of Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson.

This unfathomable event has shaken South Carolina to its core, but the fallout has been rather remarkable. A 21-year-old self-professed white supremacist brutally murdered nine innocent people in a church with the intention of starting—in his own words—a “race war.” The end result was far from what the young assassin intended. Black and white communities came together in mourning. A much-needed dialogue on racial relations came about, which had no choice but to FINALLY address the southern-fried elephant in the room: the continued flying of the Confederate battle flag on the South Carolina statehouse lawn.

The Confederate flag has been a bone of contention in South Carolina ever since it was put atop the statehouse flagpole in 1962 (as many believe, a reaction to and resistance of integration and the civil rights movement.) The debate over the flag has been ongoing with one side of professed “history buffs” declaring it part of their Southern heritage, and with another side of people who believe the flag is a symbol of white supremacy—a longing for sepia-toned antebellum days when blacks “knew their place” (as plantation slaves).

Undoubtedly for some, it does tie back to ancestors who lost their lives in a “state’s rights” battle against what they perceived to be an overreaching federal government, and for some others it simply represents collard greens and sweet tea, doing donuts in a mud-bog and the genteel Southern manner.

Still, there are many who recognize it as the flag of choice flown by the Ku Klux Klan and segregationists—a banner under which people of color have been systematically terrorized and lynched for decades. A reminder of a war fought for “state’s rights”—including the right to keep human beings as slaves.

The “stars and bars” has remained flying at the statehouse because the “it’s heritage, not hate” crowd have maintained a power dynamic in South Carolina politics, unwilling to concede that there are any racist connotations to the symbol and unwilling to accept that for a large segment of the the state’s population, that symbol makes them uncomfortable or downright fearful, because of an altogether different history and heritage (of hate).

Protester at a recent pro-Confederate flag event. Photo by Bickel.

Protesters at a recent pro-confederate flag event. Photo by Bickel.

Protester at a recent pro-Confederate flag event. Photo by Bickel.
The question has been asked for years,” If this flag isn’t racist, then why do racists LOVE this flag?” No one on the pro-flag side ever seems to have a great answer for that. A few years back I did a photo essay on a now-defunct landmark in Laurens, SC called “The Redneck Shop.”

The Redneck Shop. Laurens, SC. Photo by Bickel.
The Redneck Shop was run by John Howard, a Grand Dragon in the South Carolina KKK, and served as headquarters for the Aryan Nations World Congress, as well as campaign headquarters for John Bowles who ran for president as the neo-Nazi National Socialist Order of America party candidate. The back room was a meeting hall with a huge mural featuring the swastika next to a portrait of American Nazi, George Lincoln Rockwell. The front room was a shop carrying a full line of Nazi and Klan related paraphenalia and racist T shirts—but what was there more of than anything else? Confederate flags, EVERYWHERE. Anything you can imagine putting a Confederate flag on, they had it at The Redneck Shop. That visit left a lasting impression, and it became even more clear to me afterwords what that flag meant to white-supremacists. 

The Redneck Shop. Laurens, SC. Photo by Bickel.
Still, so many SC politicans seemed unconvinced—until that horrible, bloody event took place in Charleston last week. But, make no mistake—that tragedy in and of itself did not get the dialogue started on the meaning of the Confederate Flag as a symbol of white supremacy. It took the killer making the most specific statement possible in big bold capital letters, essentially saying “I AM A WHITE SUPREMACIST MURDERER AND BY THE WAY CHECK OUT THESE SELFIES:”

There’s no arguing the “brand” anymore.
Remarkably, it only took five days for major Republican players who previously were pro-flag, or unwilling to give an opinion one way or the other, to realize they had to distance themselves from that AND QUICK. On June 22nd, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley made the announcement that it was time for the flag to go and that she would be calling for a special legislative session to deal with the issue. For many of us who had attended decades of fruitless protests (and, uh, written bad punk songs about it) it was cause for long-awaited celebration. Finally the pro-flag people were willing to listen—and it only took nine people being murdered, and those murders being directly tied to the symbol of the Confederacy!  But still, maybe for the wrong reasons, the right thing was done. I remember thinking while watching Governor Haley’s press conference, “she just ended her career as a South Carolina politician, but began her career as a national politician.” Mark those words.

South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley. Photo by Bickel.
What happened next was an interesting little “fuck you” to Dylann Roof and his masterplan: Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears all announced plans to remove the Confederate flag from their inventories. Roof brought the politicization of the flag right out into the spotlight and corporate America said “we don’t want our brands associated with THAT BRAND.” Now let’s be real, certainly these retailers are doing this because it’s a “trending” issue and they want free publicity and positive PR. One would imagine cost benefit analyses were in hand before making this call, but its a thought-provoking turn of events in response to the Charleston tragedy. As one of my friends remarked today, “If you are bending yourself into contortions trying to defend the Confederate flag as a symbol that has nothing to do with racism, congratulations- you are less progressive than Walmart.”

But all of this brought about another conversation. Many have called Walmart, Amazon, eBay, and Sears’ decision a form of “censorship.” While this is certainly in no way “censorship”—any business makes basic decisions over what they are going to stock or not stock, it’s the “market” at work—it may be worth examining the way in which corporations respond to changes in consumer values. This is all playing out very quickly. The main argument for bringing the flag down from the South Carolina statehouse was that it did not represent the entire constituency of the state, but corporations are not beholden to their customers in the same way—though there is an interest in protecting their brand. Going forward, how are decisions made as to what is OK and not OK to stock? Especially under the umbrella of companies like Amazon and eBay which act as aggregates for hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers. And as large as these companies are, do they even know what they are selling?

Amazon listing for white-power band, Skrewdriver.
Case in point, “rebel” flags are gone from Amazon’s listings, but are you in the market for some white-power skinhead rock? Look no further, Amazon has you covered! A simple search on the keyword “Skrewdriver” over at Amazon will pull up DOZENS of Nazi skinhead albums, both by Skrewdriver and by several other white-power Oi! groups. And let me save you a trip to the comments section by pointing out that, yes, you can buy Skrewdriver’s first album, the one they made “before they were racists.”

If Amazon is going to discontinue sales of the Confederate flag, should they also discontinue sale of Skrewdriver records? Or what about Nazi SS flags?  That would seem like a given, but HERE THEY ARE, GUYS:

Should you be able to buy Hail the New Dawn at the same place you buy your Huggies and ink cartridges? I don’t have this answer. Personally, yeah, I have issues with the Confederate flag and what it stands for. Certainly, I have issues with Skrewdriver’s lyrical content. Do I think these things should be “banned”? Certainly not, if by “banned” you mean the government passing laws against their existence. As John Oliver said on last Sunday’s edition of Last Week Tonight, “The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on t-shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.” I don’t mind someone identifying with that symbol as it identifies them to the rest of us. I enjoy our First Amendment rights. They allow me to get away with a lot of shit here at Dangerous Minds. But what a company chooses to stock or not stock has nothing to do with Freedom of Speech—no one is saying you can’t obtain your flags or Skrewdriver albums, or copies of The Turner Diaries ($8.69 on Kindle, folks!) someplace else.

But the ever-present “slippery slope” questions get raised - who will make these decisions and where will lines be drawn? Should lines be drawn? Of course the answer is always going to be in the form of a question: “is this hurting our corporate image and therefore affecting our bottom line?” If it suddenly becomes a liability for Amazon to sell Skrewdriver records like it became a liability for them to sell Confederate flags, then they’ll stop.

But don’t worry, champions of liberty, this is not the end of free speech. There will always be an Interstate truck stop or flea market stall waiting to take up the sale of these items to increase their own bottom line—so long as the demand exists, which it, unfortunately, likely will.

Doge will rise again. Photo courtesy The J Train.
It’s fascinating how quickly these reactions to the Charleston shooting have played out, with the entire opposite of Dylann Roof’s intended effect. We’ve seen crucial and necessary conversations on racial disparity begin, we’ve seen action on the Confederate flag, and we’ve also seen some bizarre fallout. One petition calls for SC to replace the Confederate flag with James Brown’s cape. Some of us will be giving up a little bit of our own “heritage” as ‘80s kid TV viewers with Warner Brothers announcing it will no longer license models of the Dukes of Hazzard muscle-car, The General Lee, due to the rooftop rebel flag. Shit, I can live with that. The main thing is, whether taking down the flag, or removing it from store shelves, or taking it off the Dukes of Hazzard car, or WHATEVER makes any difference or not in healing this country, at least we seem to be TRYING—at least we’re clumsily moving forward and not letting the Dylann Roofs of the world win.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Meet our newest Senator: One asshole Republican steps down, another takes his place

Fuck this guy. No really, fuck this guy.

Not that anyone had any high hopes that South Carolina’s Tea party favorite, Governor Nikki Haley, would appoint anyone but a fucking buffoon to replace departing conservative dickhead Jim DeMint—who left to head the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation and make a lot more money than being a mere US Senator pays—but she really plumbed the absolute bottom of the barrel by selecting Republican Congressman Tim Scott.

In his 2010 campaign for the House, Scott described himself as a lost youth who had his life turned around when a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him under his wing and taught him conservative principles.

Think Progress summed up Scott’s deplorably moronic record:

Floated impeaching Obama over the debt ceiling. As the debt ceiling debate raged in the summer of 2011 because of the intransigence of Tea Party freshmen like Scott, the nation inched perilously close to defaulting on its obligations. One option discussed by some officials to avoid that scenario was for the president to assert that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment. However, Tim Scott tolda South Carolina Tea Party group that if Obama were to go this route, it would be an “impeachable act.”

Proposed a bill to cut off food stamps for entire families if one member went on strike. One of the most anti-union members of Congress, Scott proposed a bill two months after entering Congress in 2011 to kick families off food stamps if one adult were participating in a strike. Scott’s legislation made no exception for children or other dependents.

Wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display Ten Commandments outside county building. When Scott was on the Charleston County Council, one of his primary issues was displaying the Ten Commandments outside the Council building. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Scott said the display “would remind council members and speakers the moral absolutes they should follow.” When he was sued for violating the Constitution and a Circuit Judge’s orders, Scott was nonplussed: “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.”

Defended fairness of giving billions in subsidies to Big Oil. Scott and his Republican allies in Congress voted repeatedly last year to protect more than $50 billion in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil corporations. When ThinkProgress asked Scott whether it was fair to do that, especially at a time when oil companies are earning tens of billions in profit every quarter, the Tea Party freshman defended the industry: “fair is a relative word,” said Scott.

Helped slash South Carolina’s HIV/AIDS budget. As a state representative, Scott backed a proposal to cut the state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, despite the fact that South Carolina ranks in the top-third of reported AIDS cases. The cuts were ultimately included in the state’s budget, impacting more than 2,000 HIV-positive South Carolinians who needed help paying for their medication.

Had enough?

Departing dipshit Jim DeMint is an asshole with big clown shoes to fill and it looks like Tim Scott is the asshole who’s going to fill them. DeMint is stupid, but he’s not stupid stupid, he’s stupid smart (“stupid like a fox” to coin a phrase). Scott, I fear, is just a real fuckin’ numbnuts. Exactly what the US Senate needs right about now…

That thing about cutting food stamps off for the children of striking union workers is one of the lowest of the low things I’ve ever heard of a Republican suggesting. That’ll break the unions: STARVE THEIR CHILDREN. Scott deserves spit in his face, gallons of it, not an unearned Senate appointment!

The reichwing blogosphere is already starting to bleat about South Carolina’s “first black senator” but… THIS KNOB??? Give me a fucking break…

For shame, South Carolina. If you can’t do better than Nikki Haley, Jim DeMint or a silly lightweight jackass like Tim Scott, that says truly pathetic things about your state.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment