NAACP protests at Carolina border over Confederate flag

Sunday, March 3, 2002

FORT MILL, S.C. -- Travelers driving into South Carolina Saturday were met by protesters waving bright yellow signs telling them to take their money elsewhere as the battle over the Confederate battle flag hit the state's borders.

The NAACP launched a boycott of South Carolina two years ago over a Confederate flag that had flown atop the Statehouse for 38 years.

The legislature eventually agreed to bring the flag came down, but in a compromise it raised another at a Confederate monument a few yards away. The compromise satisfied some groups, but the NAACP says the Confederate flag now flying is still on state-owned property and must go.

"We will continue until the Confederate swastika is removed from a position of sovereignty on state property," the Rev. Charles White Jr., director of the NAACP's southeast regional office, said Saturday at a welcome center just south of Charlotte, N.C.

'Not to shop, not to stop'

The message is simply "not to shop, not to stop until the flag drops," he said.

While about 20 members of the civil rights organization flashed signs outside the welcome center, two members of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan greeted travelers inside. The Klansmen left after state authorities asked them not to distribute material inside the building.

Some who stopped also disagreed with the NAACP's message.

"It's a symbol of pride, of courage," said Rickey Rutherford, of Fort Mill. "That's our heritage -- white people's heritage."

But Rebecca Feind, of Harrisburg, Va., said she planned to follow the boycott and agreed with the flag complaint. "It's offensive to many people ... and shouldn't fly on the Statehouse grounds," she said.

Attorney General Charlie Condon, a Republican candidate for governor, has threatened to sue over the boycott, saying the welcome center protests are illegal because their aim is to harm someone else's business and because the centers are nonpublic forums for greeting visitors.

"In the minds of all reasonable people, the Confederate flag controversy was resolved," Condon said. Gov. Jim Hodges has also said the controversy ended when the flag came down from the Capitol dome.

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