NORTH CAROLINA: Is Taking Confederate Flag Off Wreath at Confederate Memorial Violating Free Speech?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The descendant of a Confederate soldier is accusing the Lancaster County Council of violating his free speech rights in removing two small Confederate battle flags from a wreath placed at the base of court house Confederate memorial

Leland Summers complained to county council last week that his First Amendment rights were denied when a county staffer removed the flags, reports the Lancaster News.IMG_TK-Confederate_flag__2_1_JDB86S2U_L310756755

“It’s pretty damn sorry when you can’t fly a Confederate flag on a Confederate monument on Confederate Memorial Day,” Summers told the

He placed the wreath and with two 12-inch by 12-inch battle flags on April 29 in front of the monument. The next day, County Administrator Steve Willis removed the flags, but left the wreath, the Lancaster News said.

Summers said his group, Sons of Confederate Veterans, along with United Daughters of the Confederacy, have carried out the wreath placement as a ritual since 1999, to mark South Carolina’s Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday.

Willis was quoted as saying county council member Charlene McGriff prompted the removal. He added that it was not intended to be a slight against the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage group dedicated to preserving Civil War history.

“Councilwoman McGriff received complaints and relayed the matter to me,” Willis said in an interview Tuesday. “The decision to take action was mine.”

Summers told the Lancaster News he is the descendant of seven Confederate veterans, none of them slave owners.



SOUTH CAROLINA: Protesters Face Off Against Confederate Flag Supporters

SUMMERVILLE – Thousands of motorists passing through this historic town were forced Thursday to drive through a gantlet of protesters.

On one side of West Richardson Avenue, in the shadows of Town Hall, was a small contingent from the S.C. Secessionist Party, waving large Confederate battle flags on poles 20 feet long and handing out smaller versions to passers-by.

Protesters face off against flag supporters across the street.

Protesters face off against flag supporters across the street.

Secessionist Party Chairman James Bessenger said his group did not plan to “flag” Summerville on Thursday, but changed their minds after Community Resource Center founder Louis Smith called them out on social media Wednesday.

On the other side of the street, a larger crowd with signs protesting the Confederate flags handed out American flags while songs like “We Are the World” blared from a speaker set up in Hutchinson Square.

The groups often yelled at each other while drivers passing between them honked and yelled at both groups.

“We as Americans are one,” Smith said. “I stand with the black community. I stand with the white community. I stand with the Jewish community. I stand with the Hispanic community. I stand with the Native Americans.”

Last month, Smith was unhappy that the Sons of Confederate Veterans handed out miniature flags at the Flowertown Festival.

The SCV was not an official part of the festival but had set up a tent on private property nearby. Smith said members wandered onto public property to hand out the flags, a claim the group disputes.

After Smith complained, the Secessionist Party staged its first “flagging” of the town on April 9, waving Confederate flags from the U.S. Highway 17A overpass of Interstate 26.

On Thursday, SCV members sat on benches outside Town Hall watching the event, declining to comment other than to say that their group is not a hate group but one that supports history and education.

After the rally, participants marched across the street to the Town Council meeting, where Smith asked council to reprimand the SCV moments before he and several other protesters were escorted from the meeting by police.

Town officials have said the town has nothing to do with the festival, which is run by the Summerville Family YMCA.