Demands to remove the Confederate flag from the S.C. State House grounds are generating a public relations war to sway lawmakers expected to make a decision next week.
Pro-Confederate robocalls started reaching homes in some areas of the South Carolina Friday. They asked voters to call their state representative to “not stand with leftist fanatics who want to destroy the South we love.”
“Don’t think the PC leaders will stop if Gov. (Nikki) Haley gets her way, and the Confederate memorial is taken down and hidden away in a museum,” the recording from a group called the Conservative Response Team says. “Just like ISIS, (President) Obama’s haters want our monuments down, graves dug up and school, roads, towns and counties renamed. They’ve even taken ‘Dukes of Hazard’ off TV.
Whats’s next? This attack on our values is sick and un-American and it has to stop right here and right now in South Carolina.”
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The General Assembly is scheduled Monday to start debate on removing the flag next to the Confederate soldiers memorial, which Haley requested nearly two weeks ago. She did not call for the removal of the 136-year-old memorial from the north side of the State House.
Meanwhile, a group of 75 businesses and chambers of commerce plan to run full-page ads in newspapers statewide Monday that ask lawmakers to remove the flag.
Banishing the Civil War icon from the State House is part of the recovery after the killings of nine African-Americans at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in what authorities have called a hate crime, said Leighton Lord, whose law firm, Nexsen Pruet, is participating in the advertisement.
Lord called the pro-Confederate flag robocall “disgusting and offensive.”
“If that’s way they’re going to play, they’re going to lose,” he said.
Efforts to reach the Conservative Response Team were unsuccessful Friday. The group has no filings with the S.C. Secretary of State or state Ethics Commission.
Sen. John Courson said he received one of the pro-Confederate robocalls Friday requesting that he call fellow Richland County Republican State Rep. Kirkman Finlay.
Courson, who said he will vote to remove the flag, said the call will not sway him and he does not think it would push many voters to call lawmakers.
Finlay, who has declined to say how he will vote on the flag, said he was has not received any calls.
The robocall, with its “emotional overwrought” message, just aims to inflame people on both sides of the flag issue, he said.
“It is not an example of the grace we have seen since this tragedy took place,” Finlay said.