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'Hero' removes Confederate flag from South Carolina pole

WORTH IT: Brittany “Bree” Newsome smiles after she is arrested for 'defacing a monument' [PIC CREDIT: @DaveZirin on Twitter]

A BLACK woman who climbed a 30-foot flagpole in South Carolina and removed the Confederate battle flag has become an online hero.

Brittany “Bree” Newsome removed the banner hours before a pro-flag rally was scheduled to take place at the monument in Columbia and was arrested after she returned to ground with flag in hand.

#FreeBree became a trending topic on Twitter after her plight was made public.

Celebrities including Being Mary Jane actress Gabrielle Union pledged their support of Newsome on Twitter.

“After @BreeNewsome bravely took that flag down... South Carolina had 2 Black workers put it back up. This is a national disgrace. ‪#FreeBree”

Video footage also shows fellow activist James Tyson waiting at the flagpole's base inside the wrought-iron fence to help her out of her climbing gear.

Newsome and Tyson, both 30, were charged with defacing a monument, a misdemeanor, and a new flag went up within about an hour, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.

Newsome posted bail and was released from jail Saturday afternoon (June 27), spokesman Mervyn Marcano said.

The flag, which campaigners say represents a ‘symbol of white supremacy’, has drawn national attention following the deaths of nine worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 17.

All nine victims were black, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

The motivations of the shooter, 21-year-old Dylan Roof, became clear after his arrest the next day in North Carolina. A website surfaced showing a racist manifesto and 60 photos of Roof, some of them showing him waving Confederate flags while armed.


HAPPY ON TOP: Newsome removes the Confederate flag [PIC CREDIT: @JoshThicklin53 on Twitter]

"Her actions represent a nation that is saying NO MORE of letting this symbol of white supremacy fly," first lady of New York Chirlane McCray said in a tweet.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also came out in support of Newsome, likening her actions to those of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"As well as supporting the permanent removal of the flag legislatively, we commend the courage and moral impulse of Ms. Newsome as she stands for justice like many NAACP activists including Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and numerous Americans who have engaged in civil disobedience,"

"The NAACP calls on state prosecutors to consider the moral inspiration behind the civil disobedience of this young practitioner of democracy," NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said in a statement. "Prosecutors should treat Ms. Newsome with the same large-hearted measure of justice that inspired her actions."

South Carolina lawmakers raised the universally known Confederate emblem over the State House in 1961, officially in honor of the war's centennial. But it was also a time of growing momentum in the civil rights movement, and white leaders in the South were digging their heels in against efforts to end segregation. For nearly 40 years it flew under the U.S. and state flag, above the seat of government, until a compromise moved it to a flagpole next to a soldiers' monument.

After Newsome's actions, the flag was raised again, which Union noted was by “two black workers”.

“This pic... no words man. No words,” she posted alongside a picture of the worker floating the flag once more.

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