Confederate Flag supporters protest city parking garage policy

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Some Confederate Flag supporters say they feel like they are being censored by the city of Charleston. 

A group protested for third time in the past month in downtown Charleston Sunday. This time, it was in and around Marion Square.

"Stop Charleston Censorship Mr. Mayor," — those words were on the sign of Confederate Flag supporters from the South Carolina Secessionist Party as they protested during the end of the Wine and Food Festival.

James Bessenger is the chair of the South Carolina Secessionist Party.

"We came to send a message," Bessenger said. 

A message that they don't agree with the city's notice that people can no longer fly flags and banners from the tops of city parking garages as members of the Secessionist Party did a couple of weeks ago with Confederate Flags. 

"We feel like it's a violation of not just our but everybody in the city's — residents and visitors — first amendment rights," Bessenger said.

The city's notice says the following is prohibited: 

"Banners, Flags or other Displays that Protrude Through Openings Between Parking Levels, or Upon the Exterior Surfaces Between Parking Levels or that Extend Higher Than the Perimeter Wall on the Top of the Garage."

That notice is placed in all city parking garages. 

For many, it wasn't the sign the Confederate Flag supporters were holding, but the Confederate Flag attire they were wearing that stood out and brought out the opposition. 

Kelly Ingram and Randy Baum from New Jersey are against the Confederate Flag.

"We really should be working on coming together and not separating us," Ingram said.

Baum said that era has come and gone.

"We're done with that, we're ready to move on we're ready to become one," Baum said.

One person shouted, "you just want attention and I'm leaving. I'm not giving you the attention you want."

Secessionist Party members say it's not about the flag, but the new policy.

"I think it was a knee-jerk reaction and now it's being called into question," Bessenger said.

When the parking garage notice initially came out, city officials said the following:

"This notice makes it clear that city garages are for parking, not for these types of public displays, and it applies to any and everyone equally."

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