Council members await Attorney General's opinion on Confederate battle flag

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Wednesday morning the Attorney General's office said it had formally received a request from state Senators Larry Grooms and Danny Verdin. On Tuesday, the Senators requested an opinion regarding  a Confederate battle flag on The Citadel's campus and whether it complies with state law. Charleston County Council voted to withhold funding the college has been allocated for the 2015 fiscal year pending the outcome.

The Confederate Naval Jack flag has hung in the Summerall Chapel for the past 75 years. According to Citadel officials, the flag was presented to the military college in 1939 and is protected under the state's Heritage Act, which was passed in 2000. It protects established monuments and memorials located on public property that represent American wars or events of Native American and African-American significance.

College officials say the flag should not play into decisions regarding funding that was promised in 2008.

"The original appropriation that we were so appreciative to get, we go because of the economic impact that we bring to the county through football and other events," explains Cardon Crawford, the director of government affairs at The Citadel. "That won't change with this. All we're asking is that it be two separate issues and that those issues be evaluated on their own merit."

Council member Henry Darby, who initially brought the issue up, says if the flag is not removed, he will not support the committed funding. He had no comment during the meeting, but voted in favor of withholding the funding.

"If the AG opinion comes that the flag is truly under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Heritage Act then the allocated monies would be released immediately to the Citadel," says council member Elliott Summey. "If not, then we would address that further at that time."

Council member Dickie Schweers also weighed in on the conversation. He says it isn't appropriate for the council to dictate what The Citadel should and should not do.