An ice cream shop owner that has a Confederate flag and monument in front of his business said he will fight to the end to have it removed so that he can replace it with a “freedom wall.”
Tommy Daras, owner of the Edisto River Creamery, has been fighting since 2015 to have the rebel banner and a marker removed from a patch of land in front of his business, because he said it’s driving customers away. But he has been unable to because of a land dispute with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter.
Fed up, he started digging around the monument on Monday, the Times and Democrat reported.
“I have donated the monument to the Sons of Confederates chapter in Santee,” Daras told the paper. “If they don’t call in a few days, then I will have to make a decision where else or who else or anyone who wants the monument. I don’t want to disgrace the monument in any way. That is why I donated it.”
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The monument and the flag predate Daras’ ownership of the property. It was added when Maurice Bessinger, owner of Maurice’s Piggie Park, held the land.
Bessinger, a segregationist barbecue baron, deeded the 130 square feet of land where the flag and monument stand to the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in 2005, according to the Associated Press.
Daras bought the property in May 2015, and attempted to fly the U.S. flag instead of the rebel banner. But the Sons of Confederate Veterans said they would have him arrested for trespassing on their land, the AP reported.
Since then, Daras has been trying to remove the flag and monument legally. He went to the Orangeburg zoning board, but its members told him that the flag didn’t break any zoning laws, according to WLTX. Now, he’s trying to remove it on his own.
The “freedom wall” Daras wants to build in place of the monument will include a 6-foot tall and 8-foot wide digital sign, according to the Times and Democrat. He also wants to replace the rebel banner with Old Glory.
But he told WLTX that the the city issued an order to stop construction on Monday.
Democratic state Rep. Justin Bamberg, who represents Daras, said that a court will have to determine who owns the property.
“People have to understand from Tommy’s viewpoint and the viewpoint of his wife and employees that there is a lot of hostility directed toward Mr. Daras and his staff that he never asked for,” Bamberg told the Times and Democrat.
Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan