- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2015

Two activists were arrested in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday morning after one woman climbed the 30-foot flagpole outside the Statehouse to remove the Confederate flag, ignoring calls from police to come down.

Bree Newsome, 30, of Charlotte North Carolina, was about halfway up the flagpole around 6:15 a.m. when officers of the South Carolina Bureau of Protective Services told her to get down. Ms. Newsome said that she would not come down without the controversial flag and continued to climb the pole, officials said in a statement.

She and James Ian Tyson, 30, also of Charlotte, were arrested and charged with defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison term of up to three years or both, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement released by the activist group Ferguson Action, a small group of activists that worked to take the flag down, Ms. Newsome said she was compelled to remove the banner because “we cannot wait any longer.”

“We can’t continue like this another day,” Ms. Newsome said. “It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted that he would pay the bail money and “any legal fees” for Ms. Newsome, who has garnered support on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeBree.

A crowdfunding #FreeBree campaign on indiegogo raised more than $23,000 in less than two hours, over its goal of $20,000.

The flag, which is protected by state law, was raised again about 45 minutes after the incident. Flag supporters planned a rally at the monument later on Saturday.

Calls for removing the controversial flag were renewed after nine black churchgoers were killed by a white gunman in what police called a racial attack at a church in Charleston last week.

South Carolina lawmakers took steps to remove the flag from Statehouse grounds last week, agreeing to discuss the issue during the next legislative session.

The decision came a day after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley reversed course and called for the divisive symbol to come down. The flag has flown in front of the state Capitol for 15 years after being moved from atop the Statehouse dome.

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