One woman was arrested after removing the Confederate flag from its lofty perch outside the Columbia, S.C., State House, and now people are tweeting #FreeBree to show their support.
The woman, identified as Bree Newsome by nationally prominent activist and educator DeRay McKesson, scaled the 30-foot flagpole to remove the flag just before dawn, the Associated Press reports.
Newsome, who is black, and the man who assisted her, James Ian Dyson, were arrested by police, taken to a detention center, and charged with defacing a monument, according to The Guardian.
Within hours of removing the flag, Newsome was flooded with support on social media. Twitter users shared photos of her along with the hashtag "#FreeBree," which became the top-trending topic in the United States at around 9:30 a.m. ET.
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Many have called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds after nine churchgoers were shot and killed in Charleston on Wednesday, Jun. 17. These voices have ranged from protesters to Gov. Nikki Haley, and Pres. Obama called the banner "a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation" during his eulogy at S.C. state Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney's funeral on Friday.
Fusion has reached out to the Columbia Police Department and the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. We will update the story when we hear back.
UPDATE: Bree Newsome and James Ian Dyson removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds on behalf of a group of self-described "concerned citizens." In an emailed statement to Fusion, the group writes:
We are regular human beings, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, Carolinians, educators, and activist—both black and white—who believe in the fundamental idea of humanity. The flag we removed is one of the most familiar remnants of white supremacy that supports the idea that there is still a reigning group of individuals who control our freedom, while tacitly supporting white Americans when they commit heinous and racially charged hate crimes against Blacks and People of Color. We took this task in our own hands because [our] President, Governor, mayors, legislators, and councilmen had a moral duty to remove the flag but failed to act. We could not sit by and watch the victims of the Charleston Massacre be laid to rest while the inspiration for their deaths [continues] to fly above their caskets.
We call all people to join us and stand as a united front, to take an active role towards liberating ourselves through the dismantlement of the largest form of our oppression, white supremacy. Let this day be the start towards true human progress.
We removed the flag today because we can't wait any longer. 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.
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