COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dozens of Ku Klux Klan members gathered outside the South Carolina State House on Saturday to protest the removal of the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds—a movement that gained momentum after nine congregants of an historic black church were shot and killed on June 17.
Bottles were thrown and fists were exchanged as scores of police officers worked to separate the demonstrators from the crowd that had formed around them—a number of whom had attended a counter-rally organized by the New Black Panther Party earlier in the afternoon. Here's what people on both sides of the police barricade had to say.
1. "I am at the State House today to support taking the flag down. I think it should have come to a vote, but I am here to support." — David Smith, 60
2. "This, for me, is about injustice." — John Holmes, 59
3. "I believe that the federal government is taking our rights away. This is not a race issue." — Alex Branch, 54
4. "This is all dumb, this stupid flag stuff. But it's okay. My brothers are coming." — Joseph Smith, 59
5. "The flag is not the problem. What we allow to happen to us is the problem." — Prince Mazani, 21
6. "The lord hates hatred. He hates the Black Panthers, sodomy, and abortion." — Alan Hoylen, 54
7. "My presence here today is to approach those with the Confederate flag, to see where they are standing, and create a dialogue." — Azid Mohammed, 38
8. "I am here to further the white people. I am not here to bash a race. I am here to better my own." — Christian Pedra, 24
9. "I am here for white power. I am here to protect my heritage. White power." — Stephen Johnson, 28
10. "I am fed up with them. I did that hanging gesture because n——-s want to kill me." — Gary Alice
When Ben Grenaway is not working as a journalist, photographer, and graphic designer, he is traversing high-ropes courses, taking his feisty canine on long and meandering adventures, or watching the latest Netflix time sink.