(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Two people were arrested Saturday after a woman climbed the flagpole outside the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia and removed the Confederate flag.
The woman, identified as Brittany Newsome, was about halfway up the flagpole when an officer told her to come down, police said. She instead continued up to remove the flag before safely making her way down.
Newsome and a man who police said was helping her, James Tyson, were arrested by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety Bureau of Protective Services. Both were charged with defacing a monument.
A new flag was raised again shortly afterwards, police said.
Tamike Lewis, who described herself as an activist, said she and about 10 others were outside the statehouse because they were tired “of waiting for the judicial system to take action” regarding the Confederate flag, which has seen renewed debate in the wake of the shooting inside a historic church in Charleston last week.
While South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has called for the Confederate flag to be removed from state Capitol grounds, it could still take months to remove. The fate of the flag lies in the hands of the state legislature and it’s unclear when lawmakers may vote on its removal.
Newsome, 30, and Tyson, 30, face up to a $5000 fine and three years in prison if convicted.
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