A woman scaled a flagpole in front of the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday morning and removed the Confederate battle flag.
"We removed the flag today because we can't wait any longer,” Bree Newsome, 30, said in a statement released by activist group Blackbird, which was helping out with press but did not facilitate the event itself. “We can't continue like this another day. It's time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”
Newsome now faces a charge of defacing monuments on state Capitol grounds, The Associated Press reported. The offense carries a possible fine of up to $5,000 and up to three years in prison.
Newsome did not act alone, but was part of a larger group of activists who wanted to see the flag come down. Newsome, who is from North Carolina, is black, but the group she is part of is multiracial, according to the release.
She made it about halfway up the pole when authorities commanded her to come down, but she continued to go up and remove the flag, which was padlocked in place. She was arrested, along with a man and a woman who accompanied her to the Statehouse grounds in Columbia. James Ian Tyson, 30, is facing the same charges as Newsome, according to the AP.
The flag was raised up again about 45 minutes later.
A pro-Confederate battle flag rally is scheduled for later in the day.
Last week’s massacre of nine black churchgoers by a white gunman reignited controversy surrounding the flag. Numerous activists, politicians and regular citizens have called for the flag to be removed from the South Carolina Capitol grounds, with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) voicing her support Monday for taking down the flag.
CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that the organization Blackbird did not facilitate the act, but was helping with press.