Taking down the Confederate flag …What local folks say about it

By Herald staffers · The Herald
Published 07/27/08

Steve Love, president of the Western York County NAACP chapter, says the Confederate flag must be removed from the State House grounds because it symbolizes ignorance and racism to many residents and visitors.

"A lot of civil rights issues have lasted for years before they were resolved. Regardless of how long it takes — if it takes eight more years — we’re not going to stop (the boycott) until it comes down. That flag should not fly in a place of sovereignty. It should go to a museum."

Kirk Carter, commander of the York Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, says the flag should not be moved.

"It’s in the proper place to honor the Confederate soldiers that fought so courageously for the Southland and their families. Leave the flag where it’s at. Let’s move on and look toward the future."

Bennish Brown, director of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the NAACP boycott has prevented the county from bidding for major college championships, such as Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournaments, at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill.

"We’ve been operating under that boycott for eight years, and we’ve had to make adjustments. We haven’t had the opportunity to sit at the table for certain events that I think we’re capable of hosting."

Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, said the flag should continue to fly on the State House grounds.

"I still stand by the compromise we reached several years ago. It was a reasonable compromise. My speculation is that the General Assembly will not want to get into that fight again."

Rep. Herb Kirsh, D-Clover, said the flag should not be moved from its current perch.

"I don’t have a problem with where it is right now. That was a compromise, and I think everyone is pleased with it except the NAACP. And they’re just being stubborn, that’s my opinion. Why open up the thing again? I’ll never know."

Rep. Carl Gullick, R-York, favored moving the flag to its current location and says it should stay there. He is unopposed for re-election.

"We’ve got a compromise … That was the deal that was brokered through a gnashing of teeth for the better part of a year. Everybody was happy. Then all of a sudden it comes back up again."

Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, supports leaving the flag at the Confederate memorial on the State House grounds.

"It’s a fitting tribute to those brave individuals who fought for their country. I don’t think previous boycotts have had much of an effect, and I don’t think this one will either."

Efforts last week to reach Democratic nominee Herb Crump were unsuccessful.

Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, opposed removing the flag from atop the State House dome in 2000 and now opposes taking it off the grounds. He is unopposed for re-election.

"I don’t think anything should be done … The Legislature spoke, said that was an appropriate place. I don’t know a more appropriate place than the (Confederate) soldiers’ monument."

Rep. Dennis Moss, D-Gaffney, who represents parts of western York and Chester counties, "would have a hard time second-guessing" the compromise already in place that moved the flag from the State House dome to the Confederate Soldiers Memorial in 2000.

"If we vote on something, reach a compromise, then bring it back up every three or four years, we’ll never get anything done. None of my constituents have complained… It’s not really hurting anybody, but it’s not helping, either."

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Lancaster, Republican nominee for the Senate District 16 seat held by the retiring Chauncey Gregory, R-Lancaster, opposes removing the flag from its current location.

"The current location of the flag was the result of something that is all too rare in politics these days: a sound, bipartisan compromise on a contentious issue. It’s very telling that an out-of-state group like the NAACP won’t respect that compromise. My guess is that this has more to do with (presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack) Obama being on the ticket than anything else. I think we should continue to honor the compromise."

Efforts last week to reach Democratic nominee Mandy Powers Norrell were unsuccessful.

House District 49

Marvin Rogers, Republican nominee for the seat held by the retiring Bessie Moody-Lawrence, D-Rock Hill, opposes the flag’s placement on State House grounds, but says politicians should focus more on helping people improve their everyday lives.

"My personal conviction has always been that flag belongs in a museum and not on the State House grounds. It’s a divisive symbol. There’s no time in our state’s history that we need unity more than this time."

John King, Democratic nominee for Moody-Lawrence’s seat, would not say whether the flag should be moved. He says he is more concerned with issues such as economic development and predatory payday lending.

"I will not be derailed or sidetracked by the flag issue. I’m not worried about the Confederate flag because that issue has already been addressed by the Legislature. We need to move on. I have no concern with the Confederate flag."

House District 45

Deborah Long, Republican nominee for the seat now held by Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, who is running for the Senate, is OK with the flag in its current location.

"It’s part of our history. I do understand some people find it offensive, but it’s a piece of our history, as are the statues on our grounds. I’m not really in favor in removing it."

Fred Thomas, Democratic nominee for Mulvaney’s seat, would not say whether the flag should be moved. He said he is more concerned with other issues.

"This issue doesn’t even show up on my radar. My focus when I get to Columbia will be on jobs for our citizens, strengthening the economy and protecting our public schools from interlopers."

Copyright © 2008 The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina

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