NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Confederate battle flags flew above I-26 Monday morning as two members of the South Carolina Secessionist Party held a demonstration on Aviation Avenue.
Party Chairman James Bessenger said it was in response to a recent news conference held by the National Action Network. It was also to put pressure on lawmakers, he said.
"A little bit of this has something to do with trying to remind the legislature to keep their promise," Bessenger said. "When they took the flag down in 2015, the same legislation said the flag would go in the Confederate Relic Room and it's been two years later. We want to see that happen."
Bessenger issued a news release early Monday morning in which he condemned remarks made by Pastor Thomas Dixon of The Coalition at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
In the release, Bessenger called Dixon's remarks as "the foulest form of hatred" and claimed Dixon said of South Carolinians and other southern states who revere the Confederate flag that "we cannot treat them as if they are humans."
Dixon responded Monday afternoon, saying the party took his words out of context. Dixon said he was comparing hate groups, not Confederate flag supporters, to terrorists.
At Sunday's news conference, Dixon criticized President Donald Trump for not referring to the white nationalist group as terrorists.
"He will not call out racist white supremacists," Dixon said. "Why is that? Are they terrorists? In my humble opinion, driving a car into a crowd of innocent people is no different than flying an airplane into a building full of innocent people. A terrorist is a terrorist no matter what the weapon of choice is. And our president didn't have the guts to stand up and call terrorists exactly what they are: terrorists."
Dixon said the woman killed at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was "mowed down for standing on the street expressing her free opinion."
"This is America," Dixon said. "An America where we are better than what we saw yesterday displayed, we are better than what we've seen in our communities displayed, and we are better than what we see every Saturday and Sunday right here on this Battery displayed, when the South Carolina Secessionist Party comes here with Confederate battle flags and hoist them up on public property as if they are some kind of symbol of pride and unity, when really, they are symbols of terrorism, just as we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia, yesterday. So it's time to remove the flag that they rally behind from the public landscape of America once and for all. At home or in a museum, but not on America's public streets. And no more permits for rallies. The evidence against treating them like civilized humans became clear crystal clear yesterday. We can't treat them as if they're humans. Terrorists don't get permits in America like law abiding citizens do."
Bessenger said in the release there is no record whatsoever of the Secessionist Party or any of its members being involved in any violent protests or altercations during its existence.
The men waving the Confederate flags were on the overpass for about an hour.