Confederate Flag group says it was unfairly booted from Summerville Christmas Parade

James Bessenger (WCIV)

The Summerville Christmas Parade was the backdrop of a renewed lowcountry debate Sunday, with people fired up about the Confederate Flag.

Representatives of the Carolina Flaggers, a group that supports displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, says it was unfairly pulled from the parade lineup.

Members say a parade organizer asked them to remove two Confederate Battle Flags from their truck before the parade started. James Bessenger of the Carolina Flaggers says his group agreed, and adusted the number of flags they were displaying.

But, once the Flaggers hit the parade route, Bessenger says parade officials asked his group to leave. Bessenger says the official reason given for being asked to leave the parade was because their float had too many flags.

Bessenger says other floats had just as many flags, yet were not asked to leave, and that the list of rules for the parade didn't even mention flags.

“The flagging operation is the only thing we know left to do,” Bessenger said Sunday. “We've tried writing letters to our legislators to get change, to our local leaders.”

“The only way we can seem to get our answers across is to interact with the general public. There's no other way to do that — getting a response out of people, positive or negative — than holding a Confederate Flag on the sidewalk.”

Summerville DREAM organized the parade. Officials say they checked out the Flaggers’ float before the parade, and say it didn't match what was originally on the application.

In a statement, a Summerville DREAM spokesperson explained what happened from parade officials’ perspective.

“We gave (the Flaggers) the opportunity to fix the issue before they entered the parade route,” the statement reads. “We were advised by our starters that the issue had not been fully fixed. At that point, the decision was made to remove them from the lineup prior to their entry into the parade route.”

Summerville activist Louis Smith argues parade organizers were right to keep the Carolina Flaggers out, and should have never let them in to begin with.

But, Smith said the Flaggers could’ve been in the parade had they followed rules, and pointed to another group of Confederate Flag supporters as evidence.

“The reduced presence of the Sons of Confederate Veterans shows that we can really do this without being overwhelming and without insulting other people's cultures, and other people's history,” Smith said.

Parade officials confirm the Sons of Confederate Veterans also had the Confederate Battle Flag, but were *not* told to leave. Parade officials added that SOCV had their application approved, and had all necessary permits.

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