Law protects Confederate flag hanging in Citadel chapel, South Carolina attorney general says

By BRUCE SMITH  Associated Press
June 10, 2014

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — A Confederate flag hanging in the chapel at The Citadel is protected by state law and may remain, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said in an opinion issued Tuesday.

Charleston County Councilman Henry Darby wanted to withhold nearly $1 million in county funding for the state military college unless it removed the flag, which he said made it appear the college was trying to preserve the Confederacy.

But the opinion by state Solicitor General Robert Cook concludes the flag is protected by the state’s Heritage Act of 2000. That law protects monuments and memorials on public property dedicated to any war in which the state fought. It also protects memorials to the state’s African American or Native American history.

The Confederate Naval Jack in the chapel was a gift from the Cadet Yacht Club to Citadel President Charles Summerall in 1939.

The school has said Summerall accepted the flag as a "tribute to the courage and valor shown by American manhood in fighting for a cause." The flag is one of 57 inside the chapel bearing Summerall’s name. Those flags also include all the United States state flags.

The college is scheduled to get almost $1 million in local accommodations tax money from the county to help pay for renovations to its football stadium.

"The General Assembly has mandated, by virtue of the Heritage Act, that monuments and memorials honoring the gallantry in this State’s various wars are protected. Included expressly in that protection is the War Between the States," said the opinion, requested by two state senators who also said they think the flag is protected.

"We believe the flag does fall under the provisions of the Heritage Act and requires the protection of the law," the senators, Larry Grooms and Danny Verdin, said in a letter to the attorney general.

Cook wrote that after reviewing the Heritage Act and earlier opinions about the act from the Attorney General’s office, "it is our opinion that this flag may not be moved or relocated."

The Citadel said the opinion resolves the issue for the college.

"We understand and respect the fact that any flag brings up strong emotions. We hope that the Attorney General’s decision that the flag’s location is set by the Heritage Act will bring closure for those who have raised this issue," said a statement from retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Steele, the chairman of the college Board of Visitors.

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