Bree Newsome, the woman who dared to climb the South Carolina capitol flagpole and remove the Confederate flag, spoke out on television for the first time this morning, beginning with an edited appearance on Good Morning America. "I just felt very strongly that we needed that moment. The people say enough is enough. We need to end the hate," Newsome said. As Newsome ascended the flagpole on Saturday, equipped with climbing gear and a helmet, she acknowledged that she would be arrested. "I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today!" she proclaimed. After her descent, she went willingly into custody, appealing to God by quoting scripture. Newsome and fellow activist James Tyson are both being charged with defacing a monument on state capitol grounds. But their supporters have taken to the internet and raised over $120,000 for bail and legal defense fees via an Indiegogo campaign that originally aimed to raise just $20,000. Supporters also created the hashtag #FreeBree, which has been trending on social media.
If Newsome is convicted, she could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. The Confederate flag continues to fly in Columbia. Legally, it cannot come down without a two-thirds majority vote in the State General Assembly. Governor Nikki Haley and the majority of South Carolina legislators have vocalized their beliefs that the flag should be removed. Nevertheless, Newsome feels her quest fomented progress. "A lot of people have been inspired by this moment," she says. Those people include Ava Duvernay (director of the Academy Award-winning film Selma, who called Newsome her "black superhero"), Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray.