File video: York County Courthouse opens amid Confederate flag controversy
Republican congressional candidate Sheri Few is expected to be one of the speakers Saturday at a rally outside the York County Courthouse.
Rally organizers say the event is being held to show county officials they believe removing the Confederate flag and other Confederate items from the courthouse’s main courtroom is illegal. The rally, 2-4 p.m., will have speakers and is sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter based in Clover, said Kirk Carter, commander of the Clover group.
County officials reopened the renovated courthouse in late January amid protests from those who support, and oppose, the flag. Earlier this month, the main courtroom opened without returning a version of the Confederate flag, pictures of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and other historic flags.
York County officials have asked the S.C. Attorney General’s Office for ruling on whether keeping the flag out of the courtroom, and instead putting it in a historic place such as a museum, would violate the South Carolina Heritage Act. The official opinion has not been issued, county officials said.
Some groups say the Heritage Act means the courthouse is a state historic monument and cannot be changed. Under that standard, removing the Confederate flag and other items would require legislative approval. Carter said removal of the items is illegal, and he will speak about the issue Saturday.
Civil rights groups, black leaders, pastors and many lawyers have opposed the flag and other Confederate memorabilia in any court of law, saying the items are symbols of slavery, hate, oppression, bigotry and inequality.
Fifth Congressional District candidate Sheri Few opposed removing the flag from the Statehouse in Columbia. Her opposition is featured in one of her campaign ads, where she says it “started a war on our history.” She also has said the removal of the flag is political correctness and history is being rewritten.
She is scheduled to speak at the event, said April Few, a campaign spokesperson.
No other courthouse or courtroom in York County has Confederate flags.
The York County courthouse is closed on Saturdays. Protest organizers notified county officials of their intent, said Trish Startup, York County spokesperson. The group has a First Amendment right to gather, Startup said, so no permit is required.