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Confederate flag supporters rally in York, want items returned to courthouse

File video: Confederate flag supporters rally at York County Courthouse

File video from April 22, 2017: Confederate flag supporters gathered at the York County Courthouse to voice their disapproval over county officials' decision not to return Confederate items back to the main courtroom. The courthouse underwent a $1
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File video from April 22, 2017: Confederate flag supporters gathered at the York County Courthouse to voice their disapproval over county officials' decision not to return Confederate items back to the main courtroom. The courthouse underwent a $1

Congressional candidate Sheri Few roused a crowd of nearly 100 Confederate flag-wielding supporters Saturday after calling their presence at the York County Courthouse “honorable.”

The Republican vying for U.S. House Dist. 5 seat said “you have a chance to have your voice heard again,” and she is their voice.

“I think the fact that you are defending your Southern heritage and the heritage that’s been displayed in this courthouse for a long time, you’re defending the fact that it needs to remain there,” she said.

Rally organizers said they want to show county officials not returning the Confederate flag and other Confederate items to the main courtroom is illegal. The courthouse reopened earlier this year following a $10 million renovation. County officials say the items are not monuments or memorials, and were placed there for decoration, and are not required to be returned to the courtroom under the S.C. Heritage Act. York County officials are waiting for an opinion from the S.C. Attorney General.

Many Confederate flag supporters at Saturday’s rally came from other towns and states, including Creighton Lovelace, a Baptist preacher in Forest City, N.C. Lovelace said the similar removal of a Virginia monument of Robert E. Lee is an “attack” on Confederate supporters and “some people have taken it inside their little pea brains that it’s offensive.”

“And they did the multi-million dollar renovation of this beautiful historic courthouse and they just said, ‘Oops, we forgot to put it back,’” he yelled. “You decided to take away a shrine, a memorial to our ancestors, and we’re sick and tired of it.”

The group -- some wearing Confederate flag boots and waving flags emblazoned with “I ain’t coming down” -- ended the two-hour rally singing “Dixieland.”

“I am here standing with my Southern brethren as we stand to fight against the genocide of southern heritage and put an end to cultural cleansing and start telling the truth about history,” said B.C. Johnson, an African-American military veteran who said he has black and white ancestors who “fall under this flag.”

Not everyone there supported the effort. Nearby Cynthia Bradford of York held a small sign stating “Hate doesn’t fly here.”

Tracy Kimball: 803-329-4072

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