- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2017

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The city of Charleston is banning any flags or banners that rise above the walls of city parking garages after a group flew Confederate flags from their trucks at the top of parking decks on Sunday.

The South Carolina Secessionist Party organized what it called a “grand flagging” to protest the Wednesday visit at the College of Charleston by Bree Newsome, who climbed a Statehouse flag pole in June 2015 and pulled down the Confederate flag less than two weeks before it would be permanently removed.

The group typically flies Confederate flags at the Battery at the southern tip of Charleston within sight of where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, but decided to fly the flag several stories above Charleston from parking garages for a broader protest.

Charleston officials couldn’t do anything about the flags Sunday. But Monday, they posted notices in garages that no flags or banners can be placed on the walls of parking decks or higher than the walls at the top of the garage.

Secessionist Party member Braxton Spivey said he didn’t think Newsome should be able to speak at a college funded in part by taxpayers.

“I take it very seriously - it’s the flag my ancestors fought under. I guess it runs deep in my blood because I don’t mind standing up and fighting for what I believe in,” Spivey told WCSC-TV.

The Confederate flag was removed from the Statehouse after Dylann Roof posed with the flag before killing nine black worshippers in a racially motivated attack at a Charleston church in June 2015.

Secessionist Party Chairman James Bessenger said he understands why people don’t like the flag after the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

“They’ve been told to feel that way,” Bessenger said. “To me that flag has nothing to do with race.”

Newsome is scheduled to speak Wednesday at an event called “Tearing Hatred from the Sky.” She noticed the protest and posted on Twitter.

“A parking garage is a poor substitute for the dome of the Capitol, isn’t it?” she posted.

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