State News

Confederate flag flies next to NCAA arena in South Carolina

Posted 12:29 a.m. Monday
Updated 4:59 p.m. yesterday

Basketball fans look out as a Confederate flag flies from a parking deck outside the arena before a second-round game of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Greenville, S.C., Sunday, March 19, 2017. A small group of protesters flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to the arena hosting two men's NCAA Tournament games. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

— A small group of protesters flew a large Confederate flag from the top of a parking garage next to a South Carolina arena hosting two men's NCAA Tournament games.

The group arrived Sunday morning, raising the flag from the back of a pickup truck . They planned to stay throughout the games and be on grounds as fans arrived at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Greenville police had the group move the truck about 50 feet away, citing safety concerns if the flag tipped.

Protesters said they wanted to make their presence known to the NCAA. The governing body lifted its ban against South Carolina holding championships in 2015.

By the early afternoon there were about a dozen protesters, many carrying Confederate flags, across the street from the arena's main entrance.

NCAA executive Dan Gavitt said in a statement the organization would not permit symbols compromising a safe environment on venue property the tournament controls. Other areas are under the city's jurisdiction, and the NCAA backed the city's efforts to manage actions concerning freedom of speech.

This regional has dealt with politically charged events the past six months. The NCAA originally placed the games in Greensboro, North Carolina. But it removed them from the state over its HB2 bill, which limits protections offered to LGBT people and relocating to Greenville.

In 2002, the NAACP held a march in downtown Greenville to protest the state flying the flag on Statehouse grounds during the NCAA regionals at the arena.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin was asked about the flag protest after his team's 88-81 victory over No. 2 Duke on Sunday night. He urged people not to judge all in South Carolina by the actions of some.

"Our state's progressive. Our state has incredible people (who are) about moving forward," he said. "But it's America. We have freedoms. People have freedoms to do whatever they want to do with themselves and their property."

Sunday's games featured North Carolina against Arkansas and Duke against South Carolina.

South Carolina was unable to host NCAA predetermined championships because of the organization's ban, which began in 2001. The NCAA regional in 2002 was allowed to remain in the state. That led the NAACP and others to turn out for a march to the arena steps in support of taking down the flag.

The issue was settled in 2015 after the massacre of nine black Charleston church goers by Dylann Roof, who was seen in pictures with the Confederate flag. State lawmakers voted to remove the flag in July 2015 and the NCAA lifted its sanctions. Roof was convicted of multiple murder counts and sentenced to death.

Hunter Meadows of Blue Ridge said the protesters did not think it fair that all Confederate flag supporters were blamed for Roof's actions.

"I didn't feel it was right when the flag came down," said Meadows, who said his ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. "We wanted to show the NCAA that we're still here."

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14 Comments

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  • Randall Lamm Mar 20, 6:13 p.m.
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    Yeah, I get pretty much the same feeling when a northern transplant opens his mouth. Ignorance.
    Just sayin.

  • Rudy Bizzell Mar 20, 4:37 p.m.
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    The NCAA has a monopoly on college sports that should change and also let the college players get some type of compensation.

  • Howard Roark Mar 20, 4:17 p.m.
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    Perception is reality.

    The Swastika is an ancient symbol with the Sanscrit meaning "good fortune." For 5000 or so years, it's been a symbol of prosperity, until Hitler hijacked the symbol for the Nazi party. Do you think any Jews still consider the symbol "good fortune?" Do you?

    Why would it be a stretch, for those impacted by the fight for civil rights, to have a negative reaction to the Confederate Flag? It has been embraced by White Supremacist groups like the KKK since the 40's. If there are those that wish for the flag to represent "heritage and not hate," why is there no outcry for the Klan to be flying the flag for the last 70-80 years?

    Wouldn't the hertiage defenders want to admonish the perverted use of their ancestry's symbol?

  • Andrew Stephenson Mar 20, 11:53 a.m.
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    It still amazes me that people identify with a symbol representing what is the equivalent of that 6 month goth phase a 30 year old had in 7th grade. I mean, the Third Reich existed 3 times longer than the Confederacy, but Germans wouldn't be caught dead flying it (besides the fact that it's illegal)

  • Travis Perry Mar 20, 11:11 a.m.
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    Maybe you should learn some history.

  • Albert Holmes Mar 20, 11:07 a.m.
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    So what ! It was on a truck not a building. IT IS HISTORY ! Get over it. The only thing that would make this story any good is if you report Barber left NC and moved to SC !

  • Albert Furter Mar 20, 10:57 a.m.
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    Sure, waving the confederate flag is totally legal, we live in a free country. Although, you might wonder why people feel obliged using their freedom to display a symbol of oppression and white supremacy.

  • Travis Perry Mar 20, 10:57 a.m.
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    The party of diversity demands every one think like they do or you must be silenced.

  • Joey Cuddington Mar 20, 9:47 a.m.
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    Nor do you see oranges growing on apple trees. The history of THAT flag is no where even close to your comparisons..... Taxes, tariffs and sanctions levied upon the South from the North is what got it all started. The human rights issues only came about much later to gather dwindling support from the war weary northerners to keep them in support of further destruction of the south land.

  • William James Mar 20, 9:16 a.m.
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    Sure the Confederate Flag is a symbol of White Southern heritage, I get this argument but how or why does anyone think that its appropriate to have it or other Confederate monuments on the Capital Building, University Campuses, and especially Courts of law? You don't see Germans with Hitler monuments and Nazi flags on government buildings; Gaffafi in Libya; or Idi Amin in Uganda right?

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