Update: A bail and legal defense fund has been created for Bree Newsome (and James Tyson, arrested with her) on Indiegogo. The page states — "We need to bail out Bree and James Tyson, the activist who was arrested with her -- but also others who will follow them in taking peaceful direct action. Again and again, activists will take down these flags and put their lives on the line to defend Black lives."
This morning a Black woman, in an act of planned civil disobedience, scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina statehouse and cut down the Confederate banner that has been the source of much debate in light of the horrific massacre at Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E. church. A video of the action has been uploaded to YouTube.
Wearing climbing gear and a helmet, Bree Newsome climbed methodically up the flagpole while police said "M'am, come down off the pole" and others shouted encouragement.
"You cannot get to me with hatred and oppression and violence," Newsome shouted from the top of the pole, according to video. "I come to do this in the name of God. This flag comes down today."
She cut the flag from the top of the pole and climbed carefully down. Police arrested Newsome and put the flag back up before 8am, The New York Daily News reports.
“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer,” Bree Newsome said in a press release obtained by The New York Daily News. “We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”
As a symbol of Civil War–era slavery, the Confederate battle flag has served as a painful — and polarizing — relic of American history for many and calls for its removal have grown louder. In light of the June 17 Charleston shootings, eight major retailers have pledged to remove all Confederate flag merchandise from their stores. Amazon, Walmart, Sears, Kmart, Etsy, eBay, and Target have each released statements promising to no longer stock products featuring the rebel flag emblem.