The Confederate battle flag flies outside South Carolina State House on June 24, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where Pinckney was the pastor, during Bible study. A suspect, Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested in connection with the shootings. Photo by Kevin Liles/UPI | License Photo
COLUMBIA, S.C., June 27 (UPI) -- Two activists have been arrested after working together to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds. The flag was raised once again within an hour of its removal.
An activist group -- naming themselves only as "concerned citizens" but identifying with the more expansive Black Lives Matter movement -- took responsibility for the flag's removal, and issued a statement through the media:
"Deciding to do what the S.C. Legislature has thus far neglected to do, the group took down the symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre, continued to fly at full mast in defiance of South Carolina's grief, and flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future."
The flag was removed by a group member identified as Bree. After climbing the flagpole, the woman unclipped the Confederate flag and shimmied back to the ground, where she was promptly apprehended by Bureau of Protective Services officers.
A man standing inside the wrought-iron fence that surrounds the flagpole was also arrested. Both were charged with defacing a monument.
The Confederate flag has been the target of intense criticism in the wake of the Charleston tragedy, which saw a racially motivated Dylann Roof, a white male, shoot and kill nine African-Americans in the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church. Among the dead was Rev. Clementa Pinckney, preacher and state senator.
"We can't continue like this another day," Bree said in a statement. "It's time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality."