Neighbors outraged over Confederate flag
By Bo Petersen
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
SUMMERVILLE -- A Confederate battle flag flaps from the porch alongside an American flag. A sign on the metal fence reads "Confederate Boulevard." The small coupe in the driveway is emblazoned with Confederate symbols.
Right in the middle of Brownsville, the historically black Summerville neighborhood -- "the very heart of the black community in Summerville," in the words of Town Councilman Aaron Brown.
The symbols began going up about a month ago, a month or so after new residents moved in, neighbors said.
Residents of the predominately black Brownsville community in Summerville are angered over a neighbor's Confederate battle flag.
The people who live around the home are outraged. Others in the community roll past in their cars, staring in disbelief.
This is a community where crosses were burned years ago, neighbors said.
More than 80 of the residents packed a meeting Tuesday night called by the community's District 1 Civic Associations and a neighborhood Crime Watch group to deal with the matter.
They plan to march in protest, petition the town, pack the Oct. 13 Town Council meeting to present that petition and set up a homeowners association to establish covenants to keep that sort of display from happening.
They said they understand that some people consider the flag and other insignia symbols of heritage, but to the community the connection is to slavery, servitude, lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan.
"It's a slap in the face. I don't hardly come out on the porch anymore because of it," said Nate Brown, who lives across the street.
"This is a close-knit community. It's in turmoil now. (The resident) should have been more sensitive to where she moved," said Patterson James, who lives next door. "She told me, at least she doesn't have Hell's Angels stuff flying."
The flag and other symbols are part of a yard festooned with a wooden bald eagle sculpture on the mailbox, a red, white and blue eagle decoration hanging from the tree and signs posted around the electrified fence that read, "Posted Private," "No Trespassing," and warn people that they risk their lives by approaching.
A woman who came to the door at the home would not give her name.
"We're all human and we can make issues with whatever you want. But I don't tell them what to hang in their yard and they don't tell me what to hang in my yard," said the woman, who is white. "I'm not trying to make issues. That's not a rebel flag. It's a Confederate flag."
The woman has rebuffed efforts by neighbors to tell her it was offensive and a "courtesy visit" by town officials asking that she put the items indoors, Brown and neighbors said.
Community leaders are worried about a potential for violence if emotions get too heated, Brown said.
'This is a close-knit community. It's in turmoil now. (The resident) should have been more sensitive to where she moved,' neighbor Patterson James said.
The residents have a legal right to fly the flag, he said. But "this is something the community can't tolerate, with the history of what this community has had to go through. We don't know why they'd buy a house in the heart of the black community and fly this flag. We want to defuse the situation. We want to get rid of it."
The dispute is the latest snarl in a long knotted line of confrontations over flying the flag. This year, a Berkeley County resident who is part of an interracial couple woke to find a Confederate flag planted in his front yard.
The issue came to a very public head a decade ago in the effort to remove the flag from the Statehouse. The flag in Brownsville is being flown on a block where people live who took part in protest marches at the Statehouse over that flag.
"You're going to come into the middle of a black community and put up a Confederate flag? That's not even common sense," said Rollins Edwards, the former town and Dorchester County councilman, who lives a few doors down from the house.
"We're not going to have that," he said. "We've got to get that thing out of the way."
"She's a nice lady," said Wanda Duberry, who lives next door to the resident. "She says it's not hatred, it's heritage. Everybody's got their own preferences. But considering the situation with the Confederate flag, I believe it should be out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind."
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